A coalition of student organizations held a flash-mob and placed 1,100 backpacks around the University of Minnesota campus to raise awareness about student suicide last week.
The 1,100 backpacks represent the number of students who commit suicide each year. Suicide is the third highest cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 24.
The student groups held the events to raise awareness of student mental health problems and to encourage more people to speak up about the problems students experience on campus.
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A report released last week shows that more than half of graduates from for-profit colleges had more than $30,500 in college loan debt. The same report, released by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, showed that black graduates are most likely to have high debt levels.
Overall, the report found that two thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with some debt while nearly 17 percent graduated with very high debt levels--$30,500 or more.
For black graduates, 27 percent graduated with high debt levels and only 19 percent graduated without any debt.
Students graduating from for-profit colleges were the most likely to graduate with debt as well as the most likely to graduate with high levels of debt. While 38 percent of the students at public, four-year institutions were debt free, only 4 percent of students from for-profit schools were. Students at for-profit institutions were also four times more likely to have at least $30,500 in debt than their peers at public four-year colleges.
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As many legislatures finalize their budgets for the coming fiscal year, schools are again seeing big cuts and students are again faced with rising tuition and fees.
In Oklahoma, the state’s universities are facing a 10 percent cut. The state’s higher education chancellor, Glen Johnson, says this size of a cut will force universities to eliminate hundreds of faculty positions, eliminate 400 classes and cut financial aid.
While the situation is less bleak in Maryland, students are now facing the first tuition increase in five years. Last week, the Board of Regents for the University of Maryland system voted to increase tuition for undergraduates by 3 percent while hiking tuition for graduate students by 6.2 percent.
Finally, in Nevada, the Board of Regents voted to increase tuition by 9.5 percent at community colleges and by 9.8 percent at the University of Nevada campuses. Over the past five years, tuition for in-state students has increased by roughly 40 percent.
The student government at the Townson University adopted a “green fund” last week to support student-initiated sustainability projects. The fund will be created from a $2 SGA fee increase approved two weeks ago.
Any student will be able to propose a project, from bike rental programs to LED lighting.
While a number of campuses around the country have green fees or sustainability funds, Townson is hoping to lead the way for the University of Maryland system. Elliot Glotfelty, the student that initiated the SGA resolution, also wanted to ensure students had more of a say in greening the campus.
“I feel like the administrators are throwing around a lot of money but they’re not actually getting student opinions on it, and if we can get student opinions on what money should be allocated towards something like green initiatives, I think it’d be a great opportunity for the SGA,” Glotfelty told The Towerlight.
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Senators in Colorado are proposing major changes in the tuition and financial policies for the state’s institutions of higher education. After years of budget cuts, the changes would give the schools more flexibility in setting tuition levels and managing their finances. In return, the proposal would increase reporting requirements and force the schools to have a plan to maintain affordability.
If passed, the bill would remove a cap on tuition increases and let the colleges’ boards set tuition rates. Schools would, however, only be able to increase rates by more than 9 percent per year if it was necessary to cover significant decreases in state support. In return for that flexibility, schools would have to submit five-year financial projections, plans for preserving accessibility and affordability for low and middle-income students and five-year plans to improve in areas like quality of instruction and student success.
The bills would also allow schools to decide how many non-residents to admit, but would require that they admit all qualified Colorado applicants.
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Police officers and the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney seized hundreds of photos from The Breeze’s offices this week, following a spring party that turned into a riot. The officers threatened that they’d confiscate all of the equipment and documents from the paper’s office before the student editors agreed to turn the photos over.
The police were investigating a party turned riot in a student heavy neighborhood near the James Madison University campus in Harrisonburg.
After the raid, the student editors sought legal counsel. The photos are now temporarily sealed until the paper and Commonwealth attorney can come to an agreement. Multiple student and area papers have also weighed in, arguing that the First Amendment and Privacy Protection Act should allow The Breeze to avoid turning over the photos.
Following the cancellation of a speech from Prof. William Ayers at the University of Wyoming, students and faculty members are planning a rally for free speech. Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, became a lightning rod for controversy during the 2008 election because of his association with President Obama and his past involvement with the Weather Underground.
While Ayers has filed suit against the University, there has been little response from students or faculty members until now. Sociology professor Dr. David Ashley, believes many of the faculty members are afraid to stand up for free speech and academic freedom.
“I think many of the faculty are cowed and fearful. There’s not much they can do to me, but I certainly wouldn’t be speaking out if I weren’t tenured,” Ashley told the Laramie Boomerang.
This is the second time that Ayers has been invited to campus, only to have his speaking engagement canceled.
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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could have repercussions for student organizations on most college and university campuses. The case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, pits a student group against the University of California Hastings College of Law over the college’s non-discrimination policy.
Christian Legal Society (CLS) is a national organization with chapters at multiple law schools. The organization requires that members sign a statement of faith and avoid engaging in sex outside of a heterosexual marriage.
That statement of faith often comes in conflict with university policies requiring that student organizations not discriminate in their membership in order to be recognized by the school or receive funding through student activity fees.
Attorneys for Hastings argue that the group is seeking special treatment and that if an organization receives school funds it should be required to allow all students to fully participate. Attorneys for CLS argue that student organizations have a right to associate with like-minded students and that funding and school recognition cannot be contingent on giving up First Amendment rights.
The Court is expected to issue a decision by the end of the summer.
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Student newspapers in Virginia can no longer print advertisements for alcoholic beverages, following a Friday district court ruling.
According to the ruling, campus publications are not exempt from a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) rule prohibiting them from printing any ad referencing beer, wine or mixed beverages. The only exception to the ban is for advertisements "in reference to a dining establishment." The rule also bans specific mentions of drink specials or happy hours.
The majority opinion stated that “though the correlation between advertising and demand alone is insufficient to justify advertising bans in every situation ... here it is strengthened because 'college student publications' primarily target college students and play an inimitable role on campus.”
The case began in 2006, when the Collegiate Times at Virginia Tech University and the Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia sued to overturn the ruling, arguing that it violated the First Amendment. The two papers also claimed that the majority of their readership was of legal drinking age.
After the court initially ruled in favor of the publications, the ABC appealed the decision.
The dissenting opinion claimed “there is no evidence that these newspapers are 'targeted at students under twenty-one" and that “In free speech cases, it is dangerous and unwise to sustain broad regulations for narrow reasons.”
The publications have two weeks to petition for a hearing before the full court of appeals.
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University of Georgia students expressed their frustrations regarding tailgating bans on an historic part of campus, arguing that they should be included in such decision-making.
University alumnus, Danny Brown, created a Facebook group titled “Michael Adams Extravaganza (Myers Quad),” as a forum for the 1,400 fans of the group to protest the restrictions. Brown also encouraged fans to bring banned items such as tents, kegs, televisions, and grills to areas on North Campus to Myers Quad.
The tailgating restrictions were instated in response to problems with waste and damage to the surrounding environment, but Brown argues that the administration could have found others solutions to the trash problem.
“I just feel like the administration needs to be a little more understanding that there will be trash, and that there are some alternatives they could have considered other than just going ahead and pretty much banning tailgating altogether on North Campus,” Brown said.
“With the amount of money that alumni and students spend on game day, I think that the Athletic Association and the administration have plenty of funds to institute better trash pickup on North Campus,” he added.
He also said that North Campus is one of the prettiest and historic places on the university grounds, and people have been tailgating there for years to enjoy that atmosphere.
However, Dexter Adams, director of the grounds for Physical Plant, insisted that the restrictions are necessary.
“It goes beyond just picking up the trash,” Adams said. “We were seeing actual physical damage to the grounds and damage that we couldn’t fix, like tree loss.”
Students have fought to be represented during further tailgating decision-making.
“Our biggest problem is that there was no student voice in the making of the decision,” says Josh Delaney, president-elect for the Student Government Association. “We want every decision to be justified to students.”
Danely says that although students did not have representation in the first meeting, the administration has agreed to allow a student representative on the panel that reviews the restrictions.
Delaney also expressed concern about the push from Brown and others to move tailgaters to areas such as the Myers Quad, a student residential area.
“Since people won’t be able to tailgate like they used to on North Campus, they will move to residential areas like the Myers Quad,” Delaney said. “We really don’t want those students in residential areas to be facing trash problems.”
Adams expects that students will find other places to tailgate, but said that at least the bans are protecting the “historic grounds of the oldest university in the country.” He added that relieving pressure from those grounds will enable fans to enjoy North Campus as a more park-like area.
Still, students remain steadfast in having their voices heard.
“I just want the administration to fully realize that game day is a tradition,” Delaney said. “It’s not just an alum thing, it’s a student thing and students want to be included. This is something that affects the students heavily, and we need to consult the people who live on this campus.”
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More from Brown’s Facebook group