Legislation introduced in Congress could make buying expensive textbooks a thing of the past.
The bill sponsored by by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) would create a grant program for colleges and universities to “create and expand the use of textbooks that can be made available online” and offered with free access to the public. Students — and anyone else for that matter — would have access to digital textbooks and not be bound to buying the latest edition stocked in a campus bookstore.
The bill, named the “Affordable College Textbook Act,” was filed by Durbin and Franken earlier this month. A complimentary bill was drafted in the House by Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) and George Miller (D-Calif.).
Durbin cited the success of a $150,000 grant to the University of Illinois for its Open Source Textbook Initiative. Thanks to the grant, UI faculty were able to develop a book that’s available to anyone for free and can be updated when new information becomes available. Similar results were achieved at the University of California-Davis as a result of a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
"This bill can replicate and build on this success and help make the cost of attending college more affordable," Durbin said in a statement.
A student at Smith College says she wants to start a straights-only sorority because she feels marginalized.
A second student posted an email from the unnamed student online. The online post was picked up by sites such as BuzzFeed and Jezebel.
“So I have this crazy idea but tell me what you honestly think,” the student wrote. “I want to start a sorority at Smith (Delta Gamma/DG), which would basically just be an exclusive group for straight girls, a little friend group.”
“We would have sorority mixers with Amherst men, weekly dinner dates, weekly photoshoots where we would dress up nice, baking nights. We would also get Sorority apparel (even Lily Pulitzer has the cutest DG stuff!).”
“I got this idea because personally as a straight girl at Smith, I feel marginalized and I feel like the minority, and I think this could be a really great way to socialize with people we identify more with at Smith, and to meet more guys.”
The Northampton, Massachusetts college for women is known for its progressiveness, a point commenters quickly noted.
Hours after passing the country’s worst voter suppression law, North Carolina Republicans escalated their attempts to prevent students from participating in the political process.
• The GOP-controlled board of elections in Pasquotank County voted to disqualify Montravias King, a senior at historically black Elizabeth City State University, from running for city council, claiming King couldn’t use his student address to establish residency, even though he’s been registered to vote there since 2009. “The head of the county’s Republican Party said he plans to challenge the voter registrations of more students at the historically black university ahead of upcoming elections,” the AP reported.
—The GOP chair of the Forsyth County Board of Elections is moving to shut down an early voting site at historically black Winston-Salem State University because he claims students were offered extra credit in class for voting there. “He offered no proof such irregularities had occurred,” the Raleigh News and Observer noted.
—The GOP-controlled Watauga County Board of Elections in Boone, North Carolina, voted along party lines to close an early voting and general election polling place at Appalachian State University. Instead, the county limited early voting to one site in Boone and created the state’s third-largest voting precinct, with 9,300 voters at a precinct designed for 1,500, with only thirty-five parking places. It’s inaccessible by public transportation and over a mile from campus along a 45 mph road with no sidewalk. “I feel like the people (students) who really care might come all the way out here to vote,” said Ashley Blevins, a junior at Appalachian State, “but I know a lot of people who are like, ‘eh, it’s too far—I don’t think I’m going to walk that far,’ because they don’t really have another way of getting here.”
None of this would be happening if the Supreme Court hadn’t invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which previously covered forty of 100 counties in North Carolina. As Rick Hasen noted, the extreme voter suppression measures adopted in the state are a clear reason why Congress needs to strengthen the VRA.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Borrowing for tuition, housing and books would be less expensive for college students and their parents this fall but the costs could soon start climbing under a bill the Senate passed overwhelmingly Wednesday.
The bipartisan proposal would link interest rates on federal student loans to the financial markets, providing lower interest rates right away but higher ones if the economy improves as expected. The measure was similar to one that already had passed the Republican-led House and leaders from both chambers said they predicted the differences to be resolved before students start signing loan documents for fall term.
Liberal members of the Democratic caucus were vocal in their opposition over the potentially shifting rates included in the Senate measure, which passed with support from both parties, 81-18.
It’s no secret that many Christian-affiliated colleges enforce very strict behavioral expectations for their students, but Danielle Powell is realizing just how vindictive a college can be when those expectations are not met. She had enrolled in Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, but was expelled in the spring of 2011, just months before graduating, after it was discovered she was in a relationship with another woman. Now, the school is demanding she pay back $6,000, claiming she has to repay her federal loans and grants since she did not finish the semester.
The Department of Education says any money she may or may not owe the school is between the two of them and “not at all because of federal rules.” On the other hand, there are also no rules requiring the university not to discriminate based on sexual orientation when receiving financial aid from the federal government, so it’s unclear territory. Powell actually attempted to follow through on the remediation plan the school originally laid out for her, which included months of church attendance, Christian counseling, and promises not to engage in sex. She was readmitted, then promptly kicked out again because the staff’s “prevailing opinion is that those professions appear to have been insincere, at best, if not deceitful.” In other words, Grace is essentially fining a former student for not convincing the faculty she is straight enough to complete her education there.
Grace’s Student Handbook includes a litany of rules all students are required to sign and abide by. For example, students are not allowed to watch HBO, VH1, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, or any R-rated movie on campus. It also includes severe limitations on displays of affection, explicitly prohibiting activities like “extending holding or embracing one another,” “lying next to each other,” kissing, and “giving backrubs/rubbing shoulders.” “Homosexual acts” are considered “sexually immoral behavior” and thus a “Level-Three violation,” which at minimum includes University Probation and possibly fines starting at $100.
Bowing to pressure from students, Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday stepped down as commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Baltimore Sun reported.
"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, wrote. He will also step down as the speaker for the diploma ceremony at the university’s school of education.
Anti-gay remarks made recently by Carson during an appearance on Fox News sparked a furor among Johns Hopkins students, who circulated a petition to have the renowned neurosurgeon replaced as commencement speaker.
"Marriage is between a man and a woman," Carson told Fox’s Sean Hannity during the appearance. "No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are — they don’t get to change the definition."
But prior to his apology, Carson had attributed the ensuing controversy over the remarks to"racist" white liberals. And in his letter to Rothman on Wednesday, Carson, who will retire from medicine this year, criticized the “emphasis on political correctness.”
Right-Wing Nuttery of the Day: Possible Right-Winger In KKK Robe Causes Oberlin College To Cancel Classes Today, After Month of Racist Slurs Popping Up Around Campus
Oberlin College suspended its classes on Monday after a person donning a KKK-style hood and robe was spotted on the Ohio campus near the school’s African Heritage House. The college is encouraging students and faculty to participate in a slate of activities centered around tolerance and solidarity scheduled for Monday.
“We hope today will allow the entire community—students, faculty, and staff—to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin: inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual,” a statement on the school’s website read. “Indeed, the strength of Oberlin comes from our belief that diversity and openness enriches us all, and enhances the educational mission at its core.”
Monday’s report of someone in KKK regalia is the latest in a recent spate of what the school described as “hate-related incidents on campus.” Last week, a swastika and other graffiti appeared in Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music. Earlier last month, anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic graffiti was found on the campus, which is located in Oberlin, Ohio.
In a debate over whether to prevent college students from carrying concealed weapons on campus on Friday, Colorado Rep. Joe Salazar (D) suggested that female students are too paranoid to responsibly carry weapons. According to the state lawmaker, women may not be able to tell whether or not they’re actually in danger and end up pulling the trigger on an innocent person:
SALAZAR: It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody.
Gun advocates often attempt to frame concealed carry permits as a women’s issue, claiming that women need the added protection of a firearm to fight back against attempted incidents of sexual assault. Domestic violence counselors vehemently oppose the policy, pointing out that hidden guns on campus won’t actually help address rape culture, particularly since an estimated two-thirds of sexual assaults occur between people who already know each other. But suggesting that women are too emotional to be able to identify sexual violence — and implying that paranoid women may sometimes “feel like” they’re in trouble when they “may actually not be” — doesn’t help address pervasive issues of rape culture, either.
Salazar apologized for his remarks today. “I’m sorry if I offended anyone,” his statement read. “That was not my intention. We were having a public policy debate on whether or not guns makes people safer on campus. I don’t believe they do. That was the point I was trying to make.”
At least Salazar apologized, unlike 2 certain you-know-whos that lost their Senate races this past November.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) compared efforts to regulate the for-profit college industry to the Holocaust during a speech Tuesday. Speaking at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Foxx invoked a famous Holocaust maxim in order to defend for-profit colleges against increased scrutiny. “They came for the for-profits, and I didn’t speak up,” the North Carolina congresswoman said.
Even if her choice of words is shocking, her willingness to stand up for the industry is of little surprise. Foxx is heavily-financed by the for-profit college industry. As the Center for Responsive Politics reported, “In her first year on the [Higher Education and Workforce Training] subcommittee, Foxx picked up at least $48,668 from PACs or individuals affiliated with for-profit colleges.”
Though Foxx is readily willing to advocate on behalf of an industry that saddles students with debt and leaves them with few employment prospects, she paradoxically dislikes people who take out student loans. Said Foxx on a radio show last year, “I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that.” In fact, many of the students with such large amounts of debt can trace their troubles to the fact that largely unregulated for-profit colleges are extraordinarily expensive.
Aubrey Ireland had so much going for her. A senior in the prestigious College-Conservatory of Music, she had supportive parents who wanted her to excel in her music and acting career, so much so that they paid her tuition to University of Cincinnati even though she was offered full scholarships to other schools.
That relationship, though, devolved to the point where the 21-year-old senior sought and won, in an unusual court case, a stalking order against her parents.
“It’s just been really embarrassing and upsetting to have my parents come to my university when I’m a grown adult and just basically slander my name and follow me around,” Aubrey Ireland said in an Oct. 9 court hearing.
Despite her good grades and success in musical shows, David and Julie Ireland often drove 600 miles from Leawood, Kan., to visit their daughter unannounced. They accused her of using illegal drugs, promiscuity and suffering from mental woes. She insisted none of that was true and asked them to stop, but their accusations escalated. They informed her department head she had mental issues that could force them to go to court to have her treated.
The parents knew about what they saw as their daughter’s problems because, they admit, they installed monitoring software on her laptop and cellphone, allowing them to see her every keystroke and phone number dialed or received. It was “like I was a dog with a collar on,” said the daughter, a dean’s list student every quarter.
Because Aubrey Ireland is an adult, she is allowed to live her life as she chooses, a judge ruled. Her parents were ordered to stay at least 500 feet away from her and have no contact with her until at least Sept. 23, 2013.
Election Day in Florida became a nightmare due to several changes to election law, resulting in marathon lines and more provisional ballots. Now that the election is over, Florida Republicans are beginning to admit the mess was intended to suppress votes.
State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-FL) and GOP chair of Alachua County, Stafford Jones, cooked up one of Florida’s many new laws specifically to keep college students from voting in the 2012 election. The vote-suppressing measures were inspired by the 2010 victory of Gainesville’s first openly gay mayor, Craig Lowe, which Republicans claim was stolen by Florida college students.
Many of the people affected were college students or young people who were moving for a new job. Jones explained this vote suppression was intentional and accused liberals of bringing in students to swing the election:
Baxley said Jones told him that voters from Tampa and other cities shifted their voter registrations to Gainesville for a day to vote in the city’s 2010 mayoral election in which Craig Lowe became the city’s first openly gay mayor by a 42-vote margin.
“It wasn’t right for people to move in and steal an election like that,” Baxley said.
Jones said he wanted the county transfer provision to keep college students from voting.
“The liberals do a good job of bringing in college kids to vote on local issues,” Jones said. “The kids vote on raising our taxes, but don’t have to live here to pay the consequences.”
Jones said he has no proof to support his claim, only recollections of liberal blog posts that people were moving to vote.
Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida, one of the most diverse universities in the nation. College students tend to hold more liberal views, and favored President Obama by 30 percent this year. Disenfranchisement of students is a tried and true Republican tactic. During the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in June, election officials ruled that some student IDs were not eligible for voting and passed a law that made it harder for Wisconsin students to claim residency in the state.
Beyond hijinks at the local level, the Florida GOP admitted soon after the election that the goal of these new laws was always to keep Democratic voters away from the polls.
Nearly 7 million young people will be newly eligible to vote this November. And contrary to what most might think, a recent study of how these voters engage in politics using new media shows they’re paying close attention.
“A lot of what we’re trying to understand is the way in which [using new media] might be related to the ways in which young people are being active politically,” said the study’s co-author, Joseph Kahne.
Of the 3,000 young people age 15-25 surveyed in the study, “Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action,” 41 percent reported using these online activities to engage in political discussions or actions. That could be anything from sharing a video of Mitt Romney giving a speech to the NAACP, to signing a petition on Change.org asking Seventeen Magazine to quit photo-shopping pictures of its models, to tweeting about the violence in Syria.
“Lots of the sort of fundamental things that people have to do to be politically active happen online” now, said Kahne, a professor at Mills College in Oakland, Calif, who’s part of the MacArthur Research Network on Youth & Participatory Politics (YPP). “If they think that sending an email to their friends is the same as showing up and voting, that could be a problem. But in fact, what we found in our study is that young people who were engaged in participatory politics were twice as likely to report voting as people who weren’t engaged.”
So what would Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do for the poor and the working class if they were elected? Let’s recap:
They would allow the payroll tax holiday to expire. This would immediately raise taxes on everyone, and would hit the working poor especially hard.
They would repeal Obamacare, which would immediately kick about 17 million low-income earners and their family members off of Medicaid.
In addition, they want to block grant Medicaid and cap its growth. In some states, this wouldn’t have a big immediate impact. In other states, conservative governors and legislatures would use their newfound authority to limit enrollments and cut benefits substantially. Over time, all states would have to cut enrollments dramatically, probably by another 15-20 million within a decade.
If they pursue the cuts outlined in Paul Ryan’s budget plan, they would cut funding for SNAP (food stamps) by more than $100 billion over the next decade. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that this would reduce enrollment in the program by at least 8 million people.
They would cut funding for Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health organizations. This would especially hurt poor women, since they don’t have the resources to pay for services at full-cost clinics.