Student journalists at several universities have attracted national attention this month. Most recently, editors at the The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper at Northwestern University, issued an apology for sharing photos of students who were protesting an event headlined by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The paper also used the student directory to contact the protestors for interviews. Professional journalists have criticized the apology, saying the paper was following standard journalistic procedure and that the apology sets a bad precedent.
Speaking of protests, student journalists at Central Washington University (CWU) are protesting a requirement that they must submit interview questions to be approved by administrators before interviews will be granted. Students believe that the requirement is a form of censorship, while CWU administrators argue that the measure ensures that interviewees can properly prepare for student inquiries.
Late last month, Harvard University also saw student protests calling for a boycott of the student paper, the Harvard Crimson, after the paper asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for comment on an "Abolish ICE" protest. Asking for comment is standard journalistic practice, but the Crimson's critics highlighted the potential danger of calling ICE attention to undocumented students on campus. For more on student journalism, check out The New York Times' article summarizing these events.
University of Illinois Is Stifling NPR Reporting on Sexual Misconduct, Critics Say
NPR Illinois, which is licensed to the University of Illinois, has requested an exemption from a policy that makes them "responsible employees" under Title IX, meaning they must disclose the identities of students who report sexual misconduct on campus. The issue arose when NPR invited students to anonymously submit their stories of campus sexual misconduct through an online form. NPR member stations are independently owned, but two-thirds of them are licensed to or affiliated with colleges or universities.
AFSCME Local 3299 Organizes Strike Against UC
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 3299 Union, which represents 24,000 employees of the University of California, has organized a strike against UC to protest the alleged outsourcing of jobs and contracts previously granted to UC employees. The union says that those jobs are going to private contractors instead. According to a report released by the union, the affected workers are disproportionately black or female, and outsourced workers are paid 53% less than UC employees.
The Williams English Boycott
Students at Williams College — a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts — are calling for a boycott of the English department, which they argue is consistently racist in its treatment of faculty and its choice of subject matter. Student demands include a new department chair; the current chair, Kathryn Kent, drew ire last year after she allegedly shouted and swore at American studies professor Dorothy Wang.
UF's Student President Faces Impeachment After Bringing Donald Trump Jr. to Campus
The student government at the University of Florida has moved to impeach their student body president, Michael Murphy, after he helped bring Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle to speak on campus for $50,000. The student government argues that the engagement was a misuse of student fees, which cannot be used to support or oppose a political party. Murphy's lawyer maintains that the engagement was not a campaign event.
Syracuse University Suspends Fraternity Activities After Racist Incident
Syracuse University has suspended activity for Alpha Chi Rho fraternity until the end of the semester after a video surfaced of fraternity members accosting a black student and using a racial slur against her. Racial tensions on the campus have prompted several student boycotts and sit-ins this year, protesting at least 10 separate incidents of racism and hate speech. Syracuse's Interfraternity Council said in a statement that it would begin sensitivity training for its chapters.
U.S. Education Dept. Cancels Loans for 1,500 Defrauded Students
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced recently that the Department of Education would cancel student loans for 1,500 students defrauded by the Art Institute of Colorado and the Illinois Institute of Art. The two for-profit universities lost their accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in January 2018, making them ineligible for federal loans, but did not alert students to the change in accreditation status.
The College Campuses That Moonlight As Wedding Venues
Even with the rising cost of tuition, colleges and universities are struggling to find enough funding to stay afloat, especially in the face of government budget cuts. In light of this, some colleges have turned to other sources of income, including renting out campuses for events like private weddings. For example, Keuka College in upstate New York charges patrons $800 to rent out its chapel, while Columbia University charges more than $3,000 to rent its Faculty House.
For Sale: SAT-Takers' Names. Colleges Buy Student Data and Boost Exclusivity
An article from The Wall Street Journal revealed that many prestigious colleges and universities intentionally recruit applications from students who they will not accept in order to boost their applicant pools and cut acceptance rates. To find these students, universities buy their information from The College Board, which administers the SAT. Universities are often nationally ranked according to their acceptance rates — the lower the better.
How to Use Your GI Bill®️ Benefits at a Foreign University
If you have access to GI Bill funding but want to attend college outside of the United States, the process can be complicated. Only 2,750 of the 912,100 GI Bill users in 2018 attended foreign schools — about 0.03%. Luckily, a recent editorial from Military Times outlining the process and pitfalls of applying GI Bill benefits to foreign education can help you get started. You can also learn more from Veronica Freeman's guide to the GI Bill.
The Data Is In
Student Loan System Presents Repayment Challenges
A new report from the PEW Charitable Trusts builds on what we already know about student loan debt. The report found that about half of student loan defaulters attended college for less than a year before dropping out. The report also found that forbearance and deferment — both ways to stop loan payments — lead to higher overall debts and do not prevent future defaults. For more, read Mikael Mulugeta's analysis of the impact of limited student debt forgiveness.
Declines for MBA Admissions in the U.S.
A report from the Graduate Management Admissions Council found that 73% of two-year MBA programs in the United States saw a decline in applicants last year, with domestic applicants dropping 6.7% and international applicants dropping 17.1%. Outside the U.S., it's a different story; 63% of MBA programs in Europe and Asia-Pacific saw increases in applications, as did 73% of programs in China. For more, check out Reece Johnson's article on the future of the MBA.
A First Try at ROI
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a database of return-on-investment (ROI) statistics for various institutions of higher education, sortable by categories like state, institution type, available degree levels, and student age. The database covers 4,500 different universities and colleges, and the report found that bachelor's degrees from private colleges have the highest long-term ROI.
Average Start for 529 College Savings (Age 7) Is Costly, Study Finds
Investment research company Morningstar's annual analysis of state-sponsored college savings plans found that most families are opening accounts too late to reap the full benefits. A 529 fund is a tax-free savings account that can be used to pay for education, and most of them are designed to accrue for 18 years, starting at a child's birth. However, the average 529 account is opened when the child beneficiary is seven years old, cutting short that accrual time.
In Other News
San Diego State Suspends 14 Fraternities After Freshman Hospitalized Following Event
A 19-year-old freshman was hospitalized and later died after attending a fraternity event, prompting San Diego State University to suspend 14 fraternities affiliated with the Interfraternity Council. Ten of those fraternities were already under "some type of elevated judicial status," according to university officials. Similar suspensions have occurred at Penn State and Ohio University; for more, check out Veronica Freeman's article about hazing.
USC Student Found Dead in Off-Campus Housing Brings Semester Death Toll to Nine
Last week, a University of Southern California (USC) student was found dead in off-campus housing — the ninth student death so far this semester. The student was found by a USC public safety agent responding to a welfare check call. The nine deaths have varying causes, including suicide, and are considered unrelated, though they have inspired unease among some USC students. In an average year, USC experiences 4-15 deaths on its 47,500-student campus.
University of Memphis Defies NCAA, Tests Enforcement of Amateurism Rules
Last week, the University of Memphis men's basketball team included freshman James Wiseman in its starting lineup despite the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ruling him ineligible. Memphis' coach, Penny Hardaway, previously gave $11,000 to Wiseman's mother so that she could move Wiseman into Hardaway's district to play high school basketball for him, which the NCAA says is an "improper benefit" that violates its amateurism rules for college athletes. The NCAA has seen a lot of controversy lately over its amateurism policy.
American Universities Terminating Hong Kong Study Abroad Programs Early
Clashes between Hong Kong student protestors and Chinese officials have prompted U.S. universities to close their study-abroad programs in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Georgetown University and Syracuse University have recalled their students studying in Hong Kong, as have several Scandinavian universities.
College Admissions Scandal Update
A new federal judge in the Varsity Blues scandal handed down the longest sentence in the case so far: six months. The sentence was for former real estate executive Toby MacFarlane, who participated in the scam twice, paying $450,000 to get his children into USC. Former SAT/ACT administrator Igor Dvorskiy also plead guilty and is awaiting sentencing. The Wall Street Journal recently published an update on the case, highlighting how the mastermind, Rick Singer, was able to set up the scam through his networking connections.