“There are four major changes to federal policy that could happen under the Trump administration” said Howard Wilson, Vice President of Dordt College and Title IX Coordinator.
The first is changes in federal overtime requirements. Under the Obama administration the bar for when employees can be considered exempt from receiving overtime payment was raised from $25,000 to $48,000. About 30 current Dordt employees fall into that category.
The decision was stayed by a federal judge in Texas and Dordt temporarily escaped having to implement the plans Wilson and others had in place. There is potential that Trump may undo that executive order.
The second issue facing Dordt is the “Dear Colleague” letter sent from the Office of Civil Rights within the US Dept. of Education (DoE) in 2015.
According to Wilson, this letter calls for equal rights for the transgender and was sent to all colleges under the jurisdiction of Title IX (any school participating in the federal student loan program). Dordt was recognized as being exempt from this policy as a religious institution. Moreover, this policy too was stayed by a federal judge in Texas due to bad process.
“Chatter in the higher education community is that the Trump administration could withdraw regulation,” said Wilson.
The third battle is one that Dordt has been in the longest.
Dordt College, along with 36 other religious institutions filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The decision went in Dordt’s favor in the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis and the decisions was appealed by the federal government to the Supreme Court under the Zubik v. Burwell case.
Alliance Defending Freedom (representing Dordt in this case) is suggesting that the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions could advise the court systems that the federal government is no longer interested in pursuing the issue.
Another remaining question in this battle is “will the new [Trump] administration instruct the DoE to change guidance on how institutions have to investigate complaints about sexual assault” said Leah Zuidema, Dean for Curriculum and Instruction at Dordt.
Pending Betsy DeVos’ appointment to Secretary of Education, the role schools play in investigating and preventing their own cases of sexual assault are “up in the air.”
The fourth area of policy subject to change may limit opportunities for professors. Trump and some of his appointments have made statements about the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). These comments have called into question the value of the programs and whether funding should be cut.
“The biggest things people are watching and worrying for are the continuing education kinds of experiences.” Zuidema said. “[Bob] DeSmith was on an NEH funded trip a few summers ago.”