By Staff of Reuters - NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Students are holding events designed to bring attention to racial issues on a handful of U.S. college campuses this week, spurred on by the impact of protests at the University of Missouri, which culminated in the resignation of the school's president and chancellor on Monday. Peaceful marches or walkouts have occurred, or are planned, at Yale University, Ithaca College and Smith College in the Northeastern United States, though none has yet reached the intensity of demonstrations at Missouri, where hundreds of students and teachers protested what they saw as soft handling of reports of racial abuse on campus.
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By Lawrence S. Wittner for HNN - The issue of making college tuition-free has recently come to the fore in American politics, largely because the two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have each championed it. Sanders has called for free undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, to be financed by a tax on Wall Street speculation, while Clinton has done the same, although with some qualifications and a different funding mechanism. The major argument for free public college and university education is the same as for free public education in general: like the free public elementary and high schools already existing in the United States, free public higher education provides educational opportunity for all.
By Amanda Girard for US Uncut - On November 12, thousands of college students in nearly 100 cities are walking out of class to demand tuition-free public college, a cancellation of all student debt, and a $15/hour minimum wage for campus workers across the US. The protest has been dubbed the “Million Student March.” “Higher education is in a state of crisis,” said Million Student March organizer Keely Mullen in an interview with US Uncut. “We need to build a mass movement against the system of corporate higher education.” “We’re ready to fight back. We’re waking up with empty hands and empty pockets and realizing that we shouldn’t be shackled to debt before we even enter the adult world,” Mullen said. “It feels more and more like education is just not a priority of our government or our system.” A multitude of organizational powerhouses are involved in organizing the Million Student March, which, according to the official Facebook event page, is taking place at 87 campuses as of the time of this writing — nearly quadrupling the number of actions planned from just a month ago.
By Michelle Chen in Truth Out - According to a study by the Campaign for the Future of Education (CFHE), overreliance on precariously employed faculty is devaluing higher education for teachers and students alike. Faculty activists acknowledge the consumer concerns about higher education's value today, including poor completion rates, but link these to a cycle of underinvestment on the teaching side: The "churning of the faculty workforce…low salaries and over-reliance on part-time appointments" erode the quality and attentiveness of instruction, with long-term impacts on public institutions that have historically served the most challenged populations - the poor, people of color and first-generation college students. And as disinvestment and declining academic outcomesdeepen, the overall institutional integrity of higher- education systems erodes.
By Dan Wright in Shadow Proof - A new report [PDF] by the Brookings Institution claims the recent increases in student loan defaults are tied to an increased use of for-profit colleges. Through researching information from the Treasury Department and other sources, Brookings found that “most of the increase in default is because of an upsurge in the number of borrowers attending for-profit schools and, to a lesser-extent, community colleges and other non-selective institutions whose students had historically composed only a small share of student borrowing.” During the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street’s fraudulent activity in the mortgage market, many Americans went back to school in hopes of gaining skills to improve their financial position.