18 States And D.C. Sue Betsy DeVos Over For-Profit College Loan Rules

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By Lydia O’Connor for The Huffington Post – Eighteen states and the District of Columbia are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over her decision to suspend a rule that helps student loan borrowers who were defrauded by for-profit colleges. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal district court in Washington, D.C., was led by Massachusetts and joined by 18 other attorneys general. It takes aim at DeVos’ decision to freeze an Obama-era rule known as the “borrower defense to repayment,” which helped forgive student loan debt for people whose for-profit colleges closed amid fraud accusations, leaving students without degrees and with piles of debt. “Across the US, students and families are drowning in unaffordable student loan debt while predatory, for-profit schools rake it in,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted.

This Former Inmate Is Fighting For Every Prisoner’s Right To A College Degree

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By Victoria Law for Narratively – As Cheryl Wilkins accepted her college diploma, hundreds of women screamed her name and whooped with joy. They were so loud that Wilkins’ brother, sitting with his four-year-old daughter, couldn’t hear the girl cheering, “Auntie! Auntie!” Other family members were even more enthusiastic. When another woman’s name was called, her six-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and dragged her to the stage. “Come on Mama, get your degree!” Wilkins remembers the girl shouting. “Her daughter took the diploma and walked off the stage with it.” Once the ceremony was over, the pictures taken and the food eaten, the mood turned tearful. Wilkins’ niece sobbed as her father led her away. “I want Auntie to come with us!” she cried. Other children screamed as family members pried them from their mothers’ arms. The visitors left through one exit and the women, many in tears, through another. The afternoon ended with all of the women being strip searched, the required practice after any contact with outsiders. This was no ordinary college graduation. The ceremony took place at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York’s maximum-security prison for women.

A Case For Reparations At The University Of Chicago

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By Guest Poster for Black Perspectives – Julia Leakes yearned to be reunited with her family. In 1853, her two sisters showed up for sale along with her thirteen nieces and nephews in Lawrence County, Mississippi. Julia used all the political capital an enslaved woman could muster to negotiate the sale of her loved ones to her owner, Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas’s semi-literate white plantation manager told him “[y]our negros begs for you to b[u]y them.” Despite assurances that this would “be a good arrangement,” Douglas refused to shuffle any of his 140+ slaves to reunite this separated slave family. Instead, Julia’s siblings, nieces, and nephews were put on the auction block where they vanished from the historical record.1 Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Julia. By 1859, she had a 1 in 3 chance of being worked to death under Douglas’s new overseer in Washington County, Mississippi. Douglas’s mistreatment of his slaves became notorious. According to one report, slaves on the Douglas plantation were kept “not half fed and clothed.”2 In another, Dr. Dan Brainard from Rush Medical College stated that Douglas’s slaves were subjected to “inhuman and disgraceful treatment” deemed so abhorrent that even other slaveholders in Mississippi branded Douglas “a disgrace to all slave-holders and the system that they support.”3

Yale Graduate Teachers Launch Hunger Strike Over Bid To Unionize

Yale University graduate teachers protest the administration’s refusal to negotiate with them over labor conditions. (Photo: : Local 33 – UNITE HERE/Facebook)

By Roqayah Chamseddine for Mint Press News – Graduate teachers at Yale University decided to unionize on February 23, after a vote by secret ballot administered by the National Labor Relations Board. They are now being stonewalled by an administration that refuses to negotiate with them. In light of the university’s rejection of first contract negotiations, graduate teachers launched an indefinite fast aimed at pressing the administration into negotiations. One of the teachers taking part in the fast is Emily Sessions, a graduate teacher at Yale from the History of Art Department. Sessions told Shadowproof that they began fasting on April 25 “because we have waited for years for the Yale administration to come to the negotiating table.” The Yale administration has kept them waiting. “So we decided to wait without eating,” Sessions said. All those taking part committed to fasting until the Yale administration agreed to negotiate, “unless a doctor said they are at risk of permanent damage to their health.” Some teachers, including Sessions, went as long as 14 days without eating or drinking anything but water. Sessions indicated on May 22 they celebrated the breaking of the fast with “thousands” of allies in “a Commencement Day demonstration.” The message of the demonstration was this is “just the beginning, Yale.”

Fresno State Cancels A Middle East Studies Professorship Amid Alleged Right-Wing Pro-Israel Pressure

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By Murtaza Hussain for The Intercept – LATE LAST YEAR, the California State University at Fresno began soliciting applicants for a newly created Edward Said Professorship in Middle East Studies, a teaching role named after the late Palestinian-American public intellectual. In a job posting, the school described the role as a “tenure-track, academic-year position” teaching courses on the Middle East and helping develop the school curriculum on the region. Said was famously known as an advocate of Palestinian nationalism in the United States as well as the author of the groundbreaking work of cultural criticism “Orientalism.” Last week, however, after months of evaluating candidates, Fresno State abruptly announced that it would not be filling the role this year. While the school cited “procedural errors” as a reason for the cancellation, academics at the school, including one professor who resigned in protest, are claiming that the school is engaging in an act of academic censorship. In a resignation letter issued last week, Vida Samiian, the longtime dean of Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, said that a pressure campaign had targeted the search committee for the professorship, and that the school had balked at having four Arab-American finalists for the role.

 A Lynching On The University Of Maryland Campus

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By Dave Zirin for The Nation – Richard Collins III was about to graduate from Bowie State University on Tuesday. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army. He was airborne certified. He was a son, a friend, and active in his church. To Sean Urbanski, a University of Maryland student, he was black. At around 3 am on Saturday, May 20, Collins waited for an Uber ride along with two friends who were students at UMD at an on-campus bus stop. Urbanski walked up to them, and, according to witnesses, said, “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you.” Collins simply replied, “No.” He stood his ground. Urbanski then stabbed him in the chest and fled the scene. Collins died at the hospital. Make no mistake about it—this was a lynching, a lynching committed by a UMD student. A lynching 10 minutes from my damn house. Urbanski, as has been widely reported, is a member of a racist Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” But that’s also not all he is. He’s a college student who grew up in the leafy suburban environs of Severna Park, Maryland. He hung out at Adele H. Stamp Student Union, studied at McKeldin Library, and wore his Baltimore Ravens gear around campus. He was not an interloper or an outsider. He is a homegrown terrorist who grew out of the soil of this college campus

Bernie’s Tuition Plan Is Doomed To Fail — Everyone Knows, No One Cares

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By Alan Collinge for The Hill – Bernie Sanders unveiled his free-tuition plan this week. The plan, which would eliminate tuition charges for undergraduate students whose families earn less than $125,000 annually, looks much like the proposal from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and also like Hillary Clinton’s revised plan from 2015. Sanders’s plan would provide $47 billion to states to cover “tuition and fees” at public colleges with the requirement that states come up with the remaining $23 billion, thus making public college tuition-free. While Sanders’s plan certainly does dedicate far more money (per student) than Cuomo’s or Clinton’s plans would, it’s ultimately doomed to fail — just like Clinton’s plan and Cuomo’s plan.

Profit Making Colleges That Loaded Students With Debt, Now In Government

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By Annie Waldman for Pro Publication – Taylor Hansen lobbied to weaken regulation of for-profit colleges. Since he joined the Education Department, it’s started doing just that. Until June 2016, Taylor Hansen lobbied for the largest trade group of for-profit colleges. At the forefront of its agenda: eliminating a rule known as “gainful employment,” which can take away federal funding from for-profit colleges if their graduates fail to earn enough to repay student loans. Last week, that goal started to become a reality. The U.S. Department of Education delayed the deadline for colleges to comply with certain provisions of gainful employment, saying it plans to review the rule.

Billionaires Funding Plot To Destroy Dissent And Protest In Colleges Across U.S.

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By Alex Kotch for AlterNet – As far-right speakers face loud student opposition at their university speaking gigs, conservative lawmakers in several states are introducing legislation that cracks down on protesters. As uncovered by UnKoch My Campus’ Ralph Wilson, numerous states have borrowed their so-called “campus free speech” bills from the rightwing Goldwater Institute, which is funded by conservative plutocrats including Charles Koch and the Mercer family. The intent of these bills isn’t to protect student speech; it’s actually to suppress it in favor of guest speakers who, at times, support white nationalism, LGBTQ discrimination and other hateful worldviews.

In Rust Belt Town That Covers Tuition, Economy Revives

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By J. Gabriel Ware for Yes! Magzine. Autre Murray, 24, never planned to go to college. He thought he couldn’t afford it—even with student loans. Besides, he wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of ending up in “debt up to the neck.” Instead, Murray planned to earn a high school diploma and find a job doing manual labor, maybe somewhere like a factory. He told himself he didn’t need a college education to become successful. But now he’s on his way to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, as are other members of his Kalamazoo, Michigan, hometown. That’s thanks to the Kalamazoo Promise, a scholarship program first announced at a board meeting of Kalamazoo Public Schools in November 2005. The nonprofit of the same name provides scholarships that cover 65 to 100 percent of college tuition and fees for all graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools who meet certain criteria.

Lessons Of The Victorious Harvard Dining Hall Strike

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By Ed Childs for Workers World – Well in advance of the Harvard University Dining Service strike, we knew we would need to build a solidarity coalition to take on the Harvard Corporation. We spent months laying the groundwork. (For Part 1, about strike preparations, go to tinyurl.com/z3goecw.) Once the strike began the coalition was critical. Harvard Medical School students staged two walkouts in support of the striking HUDS workers. The Student Labor Action Movement played a big role; they organized a dinner for us on campus where faculty, administrators, deans, parents and our workers spoke. Campus environmentalists saw worker health as necessary for a healthy campus environment. The Jewish group Hillel hosted meetings and fed us, and rabbis spoke at our rallies.

7 Characteristics Of Doing Transition In A University

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By Rob Hopkins for Transition Network – The projects of a Transition University tend to focus on positive, practical action, such as building community gardens, local bike or car sharing schemes, re-use and upcycling projects, awareness raising on climate change, peak oil, and malfunctioning economic systems, reducing personal and institutional carbon footprints. The advantage of running practical projects is that they do not require participants to selfidentify as “greens”, “environmentalists”, “engaged citizens”, “socially aware” or anything at all. Practical activities are an open, inclusive way to engage with a broad segment of the university community. Over time, engaging in activities that allow them to live a more sustainable lifestyle can empower participants to develop stronger pro-environmental attitudes

Senate Passes New Bill Targeting College Students Who Criticize Israel

Students tape their mouths shut in support for Steve Salaita, a professor who lost a job offer from the University of Illinois over dozens of Twitter messages critical of Israel. during a rally at the University of Illinois campus Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Champaign Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

By Jason Ditz for Mint Press News – In a move intended to dramatically broaden Department of Education probes of colleges and universities who tolerate students that criticize Israel, the Senate today unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which was passed with little debate or fanfare. Sen. Bob Casey (D – PA) and Tim Scott (R – SC) presented the bill as targeting a growing number of “religiously motivated hate crimes,” warning that the Department of Education needed to take “urgent action” to investigate all anti-semitism at school. The bill intends to do this by instructing the Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition of anti-semitism…

Why Professor Watchlist Gets My Teaching Values Completely Wrong

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By Robert Jensen for Waging Nonviolence – From a “critique” of my work on the recently launched website Professor Watchlist, I learned that I’m a threat to my students for contending that we won’t end men’s violence against women “if we do not address the toxic notions about masculinity in patriarchy … rooted in control, conquest, aggression.” That quote is supposedly “evidence” for why I am one of those college professors who, according to the watchlist’s mission statement, “discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

Right-Wing Watchlist Registering Professors Accused Of ‘Anti-American Values’

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By Zach Cartwright for US Uncut – Late senator Joseph McCarthy would be proud about a new list being circulated identifying professors espousing ‘anti-American’ values. The website ProfessorWatchlist.org seeks to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”