A new national panel aims to address the growing economic and racial divide between two- and four-year colleges. The uneconomically named Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal, convened by the Century Foundation and funded by the Ford Foundation, seeks to strengthen community colleges so that they do not become a refuge for low-income and academically underprepared students alone, because doing so will be their undoing, say the panel's leaders. “While two-year institutions must always provide access to low-income and working-class students, community colleges need to find ways to recruit middle-class students as well, or the political and financial support for the two-year sector will continue to decline,” Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College and a co-chair of the panel, said in a news release. The other co-chair of the panel, which will hold its first meeting on Feb. 17, is Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library and former president of Amherst College. A list of the panel's members can be found here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The National Collegiate Athletic Association put the University of Nebraska at Lincoln on two years’ probation for major rules violations, including failure to monitor, one of the harshest penalties an institution can face. Over a five-year period, the university provided nearly 500 athletes in all 19 sports with impermissible benefits in the form of scholarships covering books and supplies, the value of which exceeded NCAA financial aid limits by a total of $28,000. The university discovered and reported the violations itself, and worked cooperatively with the NCAA to submit the case facts in written form and avoid a formal hearing. It also self-imposed a $38,000 fine, sic 38k, not 28k? dl *** yes -ag which was donated to local charities. According to the association’s public infractions report, financial aid packages may only cover required textbooks and course supplies, not recommended ones. The excessive aid caused the inadvertent violations themselves, but the failure to monitor is a result of the length of time and number of athletes involved. The NCAA is also subjecting the university to public reprimand and censure.
A petition asking Sallie Mae to revoke the $50 quarterly "forbearance fee" that the lender imposes on borrowers who are unable to repay their student loans has gathered more than 75,000 signatures. Forbearance, when loans continue to accumulate capitalized interest although borrowers do not have to make payments, is the last resort to avoid default, and the petition protests the $50 fee as an "unemployment tax."
"As an unemployed person desperately looking for work, I need every extra dollar I have to pay for rent, electricity and groceries," wrote Stef Gray on the petition. "But Sallie Mae is preying on people like me and cashing in on the fact that we need more time to find work before we can repay our student loans."
Such fees are not uncommon on private loans, and Sallie Mae has defended them as a way to ensure that the borrower is committed to continuing to pay.
Class-action lawsuits have been filed against 12 more law schools over employment data, with 51 of their graduates accusing the schools of misrepresenting how many graduates would be able to find high-paying law jobs after earning a degree. The 12 schools -- Brooklyn Law School, California Western School of Law, Southwestern Law School, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, John Marshall Law School, Florida Coastal School of Law, and the law schools at DePaul University, Golden Gate University, Hofstra University, Union University, the University of San Francisco and Widener University -- join three that have already been sued in a similar class action.
It's the cover-up that always gets you. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln is the latest college to face a bedbug problem in some dormitories -- an event that has been treated as a serious annoyance by students elsewhere, but hasn't led to scandals. As The Lincoln Journal Star reported, however, a resident assistant in one housing unit reported that when she found bedbugs, she was discouraged from telling the students, and was told to tell them that her room was being remodeled, not that it was being scrubbed for bedbugs. The university denies a cover-up, but students aren't convinced.
Pomona College dismissed 17 employees, 16 of them from the dining service, in December when they could not produce documents showing that they were legally in the United States, The New York Times reported. Some of the employees had worked for the college for many years, and their firings have angered many students and alumni. Critics argue that the colleges is failing to live up to its ideals. But college officials said that, under U.S. law, they had no choice but to act when they received a "credible complaint" that some of the employees were working illegally. That led to the request for documents, which in turn prompted the dismissals.
The arts and sciences faculty of Rutgers University at New Brunswick has voted 174 to 3 to call on the university to stop covering athletics department deficits and to let students vote on whether their fees should be used to do so, NewJersey.com reported. The vote follows a series of reports about the large deficits in the athletics program (nearly $27 million in 2010, making Rutgers one of the top money-losing universities in the country with regard to athletics). Faculty anger has been growing as the university has faced steep budget cuts. A Rutgers statement said that the university is working to bring down the deficit and that cuts would hurt Olympic sports that rely on student fees.
Indiana's Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would let public schools teach creationism in science classes, as long as the views of multiple religions on the origins of the Earth are taught there as well, the Associated Press reported. Many scientists have spoken out against the bill, as have some scholars of religion.