Quick Takes: Cuomo Probes Student Health Insurance, Survey Suggests Loan Difficulties, Furloughs at Wilberforce, Tennessee's New File-Sharing Law, President in Doubt at Baylor Med, Fires at Westmont, Recovery at Compton, Reminder About Pot

November 17, 2008
  • Andrew Cuomo has a new target: student health insurance companies and their ties to colleges. The New York Times reported that Cuomo, New York State's attorney general, has requested information from both private and public colleges, focusing on whether the terms of policies are disclosed fully to students and whether colleges receive improper payments for requiring students to use a particular insurer. Some parents have complained about colleges that require students to buy insurance even if they have coverage from family policies. Cuomo's investigations of the student loan industry focused similarly on whether colleges were receiving financial incentives to recommend specific lenders.
  • A national survey by FastWeb, a free scholarship identification service, found high percentages of students and families being rejected for just about every type of student loan. FastWeb acknowledged the dangers of selection bias in its survey and those who are satisfied with the availability of aid may be unlikely to use its services. But the large numbers of students who do use FastWeb suggest some significant numbers of families are experiencing loan rejections.
  • Wilberforce University, an Ohio institution that is the oldest private historically black college in the United States, has announced that all employees will have their pay cut through required furloughs, The Dayton Daily News reported. The savings will be used to offset a $2.8 million deficit.
  • Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen last week signed legislation to impose new requirements on public and private colleges in the state to monitor and prevent sharing of digital music files or other copyrighted material. The new law requires colleges to develop and enforce policies on computer and network use, and to analyze their networks to determine if copyrighted works are being shared without authorization.
  • The trustees of the Baylor College of Medicine are expected this week to oust Peter Traber as the institution's president, The Houston Chronicle reported. Trustees are upset about deficits the college (which is independent of Baylor University) is facing. The medical college has been in negotiations lately to merge with Rice University. When Traber was recruited in 2003, trustees gave him a $1 million signing bonus.
  • Thursday's fires in Southern California swept through Westmont College's campus, causing considerable damage, but all students and employees were evacuated to safety. Eight structures on campus -- three of them already slated for demolition -- were destroyed. Fifteen faculty families lost their homes. Details as well as photographs are available on the college's Web site. College officials plan to announce today when classes will resume.
  • Compton College, a California community college, lost its accreditation two years ago amid a series of scandals. El Camino College, a nearby institution, took over management of what remained of the college and enrollment is now rising and programs are being added, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • Massachusetts voters have decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana. Emerson College, however, has its own rules and is covered by relevant federal laws. The Boston Globe reported that the college recently sent an e-mail message to all students stating that the college's code of conduct still says that those found with pot are subject to a $75 fine, a letter home to parents, and suspension. "Possession is still unlawful in Massachusetts and the college is still subject to the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act," he wrote. "That law conditions the college's receipt of federal funds on its enforcement of standards of conduct that clearly prohibit unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs."
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