Higher Education Quick Takes
Saying that student borrowers have been left out of the "refinancing boom" that has resulted from low interest rates, Campus Progress, a branch of the Center for American Progress called for a federal program allowing refinancing for student loans — including private student loans — at a lower rate. Unsubsidized undergraduate loans, and all graduate loans, currently have a 6.8 percent interest rate. (The interest rate for federally subsidized student loans is set to double to 6.8 percent on July 1.) "Reduced student loan costs boost the likelihood of repayment while also stimulating the economy by freeing up income that can be used and spent in other sectors of the economy," the group wrote.
Students at Oberlin College and residents of Oberlin, Ohio gathered Wednesday to discuss a "no trespass" list maintained by the college, The Plain Dealer reported. Those on the list are effectively banned from campus. Critics focused on problems created because people are not informed that they are on the list, or given a chance to demonstrate that they shouldn't be on the list. An Oberlin security officer attended the meeting, but did not comment on the criticisms.
The University of Southern Mississippi is facing tens of millions of dollars in repair costs due to Sunday's tornado, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The tornado struck several campus buildings, and state officials met Wednesday to discuss the repair process. The university will resume classes today, but 87 class sections will be held in temporary locations.
Westboro Baptist Church, known for turning up at locations nationwide for anti-gay protests, has announced plans to rally at Vassar College (or as Westboro calls it "Ivy League Whorehouse Vassar College") later this month. The church plans a 45-minute protest against Vassar, which it calls a "filthy institution ... wholly given over to the fag agenda." Jon Chenette, acting president at Vassar, sent a campuswide letter inviting students and faculty members to respond to the inflammatory statements in ways that would "celebrate the inclusiveness of our community and the multitude of backgrounds, interests, and preferences that enrich our experiences." Some students and alumni created an online fund-raiser for the Trevor Project, which provides counseling for young gay people who may be facing crises or thinking of suicide. The initial goal was to raise $4,500 -- or $100 for each minute that Westboro plans to be at Vassar. So far, contributions have topped $47,000.
It's not unheard of for professors to question the value of undergraduate education in business. It's more rare if you teach in -- let alone lead -- an undergraduate program in business, but that's what has happened at Tel Aviv University. Haaretz reported that Shmuel Ellis, chair of the undergraduate Department of Management, recently sent out an e-mail telling those who are undecided about their major not to pick business. He suggested they consider fields in the humanities, social sciences or biological sciences. "Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs," he said.
The comments have angered some students studying business. Adding to the anger is that Ellis was defending comments from Moshe Zviran, vice dean of the graduate business program, who recently questioned the value of undergraduate education in business. Zviran said that business study only makes sense at the graduate level. "Business administration is an excellent degree but needs to be studied at the appropriate time," he said.
The Georgia Board of Regents on Wednesday approved plans for Kennesaw State University to start football, likely in 2015, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The plan approved by the board concerned financing for the football program and also additional sports to meet gender-equity requirements. Students voted for a fee increase of $100 per semester, to begin in the fall, to help pay for the program.
Kevin Hadsell, who led the track program at the University of Toledo, resigned last month amid allegations that he sexually harassed a female runner on his team, and that he had a relationship with another member of the team, Deadspin reported. The article features excerpts from texts between Hadsell and the runner, many of them sexual. Hadsell told The Toledo Blade that he did have a relationship with an athlete at the university 10 years ago, but not the one he is accused of having more recently. "The one that I did was 10 years ago," Hadsell said. "The one that I was accused of, I did not do."
Israel's Council for Higher Education on Tuesday backed away from a plan to close the political science department at Ben-Gurion University, Haaretz reported. The council has previously called for the elimination of the department. While officials cited concerns about quality, the university said it had addressed those issues. Many believe that the department was targeted because some of its faculty members are outspoken critics of Israel's government, and the proposal to shut down the program attracted widespread criticism from academics in Israel and elsewhere.
A gas leak at Villanova University on Tuesday left 10 students in a freshman chemistry course ill, and at least one hospitalized, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The first student to become ill thought she was having an asthma attack, but then her nose started to bleed and other student felt nauseous and it was clear that there was a problem in the air.