The University of California (UC) announced this week that it will cut ties with fossil fuel companies in its pension and endowment funds due to their financial risk. The UC's $13.4 billion endowment fund will be fossil-fuel-free by the end of September and its $70 billion pension fund will soon follow suit. The University insists that the move is for financial reasons rather than political ones.

California also made waves last week with a proposed bill in the state legislature that would require the state's public universities to provide abortion pills on campus. If signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the bill will affect 34 campuses and nearly 750,000 students in the University of California and California State University systems.

Speaking of California State University, an error in the admissions system resulted in Sacramento State University accidentally accepting 3,500 students off its waitlist. The students were erroneously sent email invitations to a new student event that opened with the word, "congratulations!" Sacramento State is honoring the acceptances, resulting in an additional 500 freshmen and a 1% increase in total enrollment over last year.


Campus Diversity

The University of Texas's Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students

A researcher at the University of Texas (UT) discovered documents outlining how the school used admissions policies to deny acceptance to African American students in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education in 1955. The policies focused on standardized testing, which was known to favor white students, and also required African American students to study at historically black colleges before applying to professional programs at UT.

Yeshiva University Students Protest for LGBTQ Representation

Last week, LGBTQ students at Yeshiva University (YU) held a protest on campus, citing the university's policy of banning LGBTQ-focused events and activities on campus. YU is a Jewish university and does not have a gay-straight student alliance.

For more on the LGBTQ on-campus college experience, check out this piece on our blog from Sam Wein.

DSG Rejects Christian Organization Young Life As Chartered Student Group

Duke University was also in the news last week after the Duke Student Government Senate (DSG) unanimously voted against allowing the Christian organization Young Life to start an official student group on campus. Young Life has explicit anti-LGBTQ policies, which DSG says violates the nondiscrimination clause of its constitution.

Iranian Students Set to Start at U.S. Universities Are Barred From Country

A dozen Iranian students set to begin graduate programs in engineering and computer science -- mostly at California schools -- were barred from their flights to the U.S. this month when their student visas were abruptly canceled. There has been no policy change regarding student visas. Most of the students were prevented from boarding in Iran, but a few were denied from connecting flights, and one was detained and turned back at Boston Logan International Airport.

Data Is In

The Most Diverse Public Universities in the U.S.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there have been demographic increases across the board for all minority ethnic groups, and that same trend is reflected in university populations. Additional data from HeyTutor explores the most diverse universities in the U.S., with UC Davis, UCLA, and the University of Nevada - Las Vegas topping the list.

Turnout for College Students Doubled in the Midterms, Study Finds

According to a study from Tufts University, voter turnout among college students doubled between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. Of students eligible to vote, 40% did in 2018 -- compared to only 19% in 2014. Young adults show the largest spike in voter turnout for the 2018 midterms, but there were increases in nearly all demographic groups.

2019 Survey of Admissions Leaders: The Pressure Grows

Inside Higher Ed's annual survey of university admissions counselors found this year that admissions are down, with a majority of counselors concerned about filling their classes. Of the 336 counselors surveyed, 60% believe that the Varsity Blues scandal is having a negative impact, but most also believe that the student deficit is due to rising concerns over student loan debt.

Survey: Majority in U.S. Back Free College Tuition and Student Debt Cancellation, New Poll Finds

A new poll from Hill-HarrisX found that 58% of respondents support government-funded, free public college tuition and the cancellation of student debt for all 44 million Americans currently holding it. Broken down by political party, 72% of Democrats, 40% of Republicans, and 58% of independents support eliminating student debt. For more on this subject, check out Reece Johnson's analysis of student loan forgiveness and free college policies.

Community College BA Shows Early Earnings Edge

According to new research from the governmental research agency Statistics Canada, Canadian students who get four-year degrees from community colleges earn 12% more than students who earn bachelor's degrees at universities two years after graduation. The disparity may be attributable to a difference in student age; community college students are, on average, two years older than university students.

Finances

New Mexico Announces Plan for Free College for State Residents

While several states have promised free state college tuition to low-income students, New Mexico has become the first to propose four years of free tuition at all public colleges and universities for all state residents, regardless of age or income. Most states that offer free tuition programs only do so for two-year colleges, and most use an income cap or limit eligibility to recent high school graduates.

Dropping Your College Classes? Here's How To Handle Your Financial Aid

With student debt in the news, it's important to remember the students who took on debt, only to drop out before earning their degree. How does financial aid work when you drop out? Luckily, Forbes has the answer. You can also learn more from Reece Johnson's Public Service Loan Forgiveness Guide.

Cornell Medical School Offers Full Rides in Battle Over Student Debt

According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average medical student debt is $200,000. Cornell University hopes to reduce that number by offering free medical school tuition plus the cost of room, board, and books for any student who qualifies for financial aid. The tuition will be paid with funds raised from wealthy donors.

A Graduate Program's Twist on Alternative Financing

Graduate schools are a major cause of the student debt crisis, and some programs are pursuing creative options to alleviate that debt. The online education provider U2 has announced that it will allow eligible nursing students taking online courses through Simmons University to defer 50% of their tuition until after graduation and to cap repayment at 10% of annual their incomes.

Student Loan Crisis, Not Mideast Wars, Helped Army Leaders Exceed Recruiting Goals This Year

Another side-effect of rising student debt is that the military has seen an increase in recruits signing up to access GI Bill®️ benefits and ROTC scholarships. Army leadership set recruitment goals at 68,000 this year -- down from 80,000 in 2017. To learn more about GI Bill®️ benefits, check out Veronica Freeman's resource guide for military students.

In Other News

Felicity Huffman Sentenced to 14 Days Behind Bars in College Admissions Scandal

Felicity Huffman, a high-profile defendant in the Varsity Blues scandal, was sentenced to 14 days in prison for paying off an SAT fixer to raise her daughter's scores. The case also picked up a new defendant in Xiaoning Sui, a Chinese national living in Canada, who allegedly paid a consultant $400,000 to get her son into UCLA. Sui is the 52nd defendant named in the case, and Huffman is the first parent in the case to be sentenced.

Pitt Tells Student Groups Not to Use Pitt in Their Names

Student organizations at the University of Pittsburgh are circling a Change.org petition protesting a recent policy change that would require official student groups at the university to remove "Pitt" or "Panther" from their official names and merchandise. Nearly 400 clubs would be affected by the change, which is set to take effect in 2020.

Princeton Eliminates GRE Test Requirement for 14 Graduate Programs

Universities across the country are starting to move away from standardized tests in their admissions requirements, and Princeton University recently followed suit by eliminating GRE requirements for 14 graduate programs, including English, geosciences, music composition, and neuroscience. The change is part of an effort to attract a more diverse student body.

What New Law School Accreditation Standard Could Mean for Applicants

In May, the American Bar Association adopted more stringent standards for accrediting law schools, requiring that 75% of a school's alumni pass the bar within five years of graduation. The new standard does not account for variations in bar exam difficulty between states; California's first-time bar passage rate is 58.3%, whereas New Mexico's is 85.7%, for example. Opponents worry the change will limit opportunities for minority and low-income students.

Graduate Students, After Gains in Union Efforts, Face a Federal Setback

The National Labor Relations Board has proposed a new policy that would effectively reverse a 2016 ruling that allowed graduate students to form unions and utilize collective bargaining. The board's jurisdiction is limited to private universities.

UM System Asks State Supreme Court to Block Graduate Students' Unionization

The University of Missouri has also tangled with regulations around graduate student unions, asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a unanimous decision from earlier this summer that granted the students employee status and made them eligible to form unions. The university argues that graduate students are not employees because their primary purpose is academic development.

Oregon Public University Employees Rally for Fair Contract, Say They're Ready to Strike

Non-teacher employees at Oregon's eight public universities, including IT, maintenance, and food preparation professionals, have indicated that they will strike on Monday if their contract demands are not met. About half of the union's members make less than $40,000 per year, and one in six qualify for food stamps. The union has been in contract negotiations since February.