Quick Takes: Clinton Organizes Students, Delaware Halts Program, Michigan Enrollment, Bill to Cut Birth Control Costs, Fees for Visitor Program, Gaza Story Questioned, NASFAA Assesses Loan Rules, Senators Seek Audit on Loophole, Rally at St. Thomas

November 2, 2007
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, returned to her alma mater on Thursday to announce the formation of her new student campaign group, Students for Hillary. In her talk at Wellesley College, Clinton recalled her student days and how unlikely it would have then seemed for a woman to aspire to the presidency. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has received much attention for its student support, which is apparent at his many campus rallies. But the Clinton campaign released polling data showing her ahead significantly among college voters.
  • The University of Delaware on Thursday announced that it was stopping a program that offered training in dormitories on diversity issues -- training that a civil liberties group charged this week amounted to ideological indoctrination. Patrick Harker, the new president at Delaware, issued a letter in which he said that "recent press accounts misrepresent" the aim of the program, but that "there are questions about its practices that must be addressed." The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education earlier in the week released documents from the program suggesting that students were being taught that all white people are racist and that resident assistants are being trained to ask students personal questions about their sexual identities and to encourage certain actions, like sustainability door decorations.
  • The University of Michigan enrolled 11 percent more freshmen this year, but black and Latinos rate of change lagged that figure considerably. Black enrollment was up 1 percent while Latino enrollment was down 3 percent. American Indian enrollment also saw a slight drop, while Asian American enrollment was up by 13 percent. The data are the first enrollment statistics following Michigan voters' approval of Proposition 2, which barred the use of affirmative action in admissions at public colleges and universities. However, the data probably understate the measure's impact. Michigan made many admissions decisions for the last year -- using affirmative action -- prior to the election, so only some applicants were evaluated using a new system set up after the vote to comply with the measure.
  • New legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would undo changes in federal law that have led to significant increases in birth control costs on college campuses, where many students report that monthly costs have gone from $5 to $50 or more. Deficit-reduction measures approved by Congress had the result of forcing the cost increase, which caught many students by surprise. One of the sponsors, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said: "Let's be frank with the American people: If Congress does not fix this problem, the cost of contraceptives will continue to rise, unintended pregnancies -- especially on college campuses -- will continue to rise, and more abortions will be the result."
  • The U.S. State Department is increasing fees for designation in the Exchange Visitor Program, so NAFSA: Association of International Educators is recommending that colleges that can do so pay fees prior to the increase.
  • At least one student being cited by human rights groups to illustrate the plight of those stuck in the Gaza Strip has had his story challenged. The Associated Press reported that the University of North Texas said that the man, claiming to have documents showing him to be a doctoral student, wasn't one, and that the papers were incorrect. Advocates for other students in Gaza said that this case should not detract from the problems facing others, who cannot reach their colleges because of an Israeli blockade.
  • The Education Department's final regulations on aspects of the student loan programs, which were published in Thursday's Federal Register, differ in key ways from the proposed rules the department published last summer, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators said in a review of the rules published Thursday.
  • Six U.S. senators have written a letter urging the Education Department's inspector general to fully account for the overpayments that lenders received by exploiting a loophole in federal law though which some loan providers were paid a 9.5 percent government subsidy on a certain class of student loans. Department officials recently announced that they did not plan to conduct an audit to gauge the full extent of the government's losses through the loophole, which has been heavily criticized by lawmakers and student loan watchdogs.
  • Hundreds of students and others rallied Thursday at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, to protest racist, threatening notes received by three black female students, The Star Tribune reported.
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