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Freedom of Speech

I am not a libertarian nor am I a member of the ACLU, but I generally agree with them on the importance of free speech. This, I believe, is a real and growing problem on college campuses:

Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union’s Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.

Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”

The disruption was livestreamed on BLM at W&M’s Facebook page. Students took to the stage just a few moments after Gastañaga began her remarks. At first, she attempted to spin the demonstration as a welcome example of the kind of thing she had come to campus to discuss, commenting “Good, I like this,” as they lined up and raised their signs. “I’m going to talk to you about knowing your rights, and protests and demonstrations, which this illustrates very well. Then I’m going to respond to questions from the moderators, and then questions from the audience.”

It was the last remark she was able to make before protesters drowned her out with cries of, “ACLU, you protect Hitler, too.” They also chanted, “the oppressed are not impressed,” “shame, shame, shame, shame,” (an ode to the Faith Militant’s treatment of Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, though why anyone would want to be associated with the religious fanatics in that particular conflict is beyond me), “blood on your hands,” “the revolution will not uphold the Constitution,” and, uh, “liberalism is white supremacy.”

This went on for nearly 20 minutes. Eventually, according to the campus’s Flat Hat News, one of the college’s co-organizers of the event handed a microphone to the protest’s leader, who delivered a prepared statement. The disruption was apparently payback for the ACLU’s principled First Amendment defense of the Charlottesville alt-right’s civil liberties.

Organizers then canceled the event; some members of the audience approached the podium in an attempt to speak with Gastañaga, but the protesters would not permit it. They surrounded Gastañaga, raised their voices even louder, and drove everybody else away.

Two comments… First, as Gastañaga learned (assuming, and it may be one hell of an assumption, that the message sunk in), giving in to this sort of bullying, as with any kind of bullying, doesn’t mean the bully looks on you with more sympathy. It doesn’t even mean they save you for last. Bullies simply aren’t that smart, nor do they have that sort of self-control. They sense only strength, or its absence. Second, I’ve often wondered how Chinese people of a certain age explain the Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards to their children. I guess I will find out first hand. Sooner or later, when my son is older, I will have to explain this nonsense to him. I just hope it has run its course by then.

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Tuition remission…okay, now what?

Tuition is only $1747 a year.  But then comes the other part…austerity budgets and as state support dwindles, one aspect is that creative cost shifting flourishes.  The tripling of student debt since 2004 are discussed here. And graduation rates remain flat.

From the chart provided at Umass Amherst bursar’s office per semester costs are shown, excluding room and board, which is worth a different post as to how that impacts which colleges are chosen.

Pro Publica Hidden charges and tuition for college

This week, anxious high school seniors will be opening letters and emails of acceptance or rejection. For them, there will be a mix of joy and disappointment. But for those students and their parents, there will also be an initial reckoning with the expensive, often opaque issue of college fees.
Lauren Vaughn, a senior at UMass Amherst, is also an organizer for the UMass Students Against Debt coalition. She said appreciating the collective cost of additional school fees is often critical to determining whether any particular school is, in fact, affordable.

“It does seem as though we are not informed about these fees often until it is too late,” Vaughn said, noting that such fees “can be the thing that puts some students who are financially strained over the edge.”

The federal government has made efforts in recent years to make true college costs more transparent. U.S. Department of Education data shows that in more than half the states across the country, degree-granting institutions reported that fees comprised a greater portion of combined tuition and fees in the 2010-2011 school year than they had in 2008-2009.

But fees for specific programs and courses typically get left out of that data. The same goes for fees that apply to specific pockets of students, such as honors students or international students.

Many school officials say they do their best to make sure the necessary information about tuition and fees is clear to students and their parents. But there’s no one definition that schools stick to when deciding what’s covered by tuition and what falls under fees, and the very structuring of tuition and fees can vary wildly between different schools.

“It’s all smoke and mirrors in some ways, the issue of tuition and fees,” said Terry Meyers, a professor of English at the College of William and Mary. “It seems to be one area of the academic world where no one is looking and no one wants to look too closely.”

To best appreciate how confusing — even upside-down — the world of college costs can get, consider this: At state schools in Massachusetts, where the state board of higher education has held tuition flat for more than a decade, “mandatory fees” wind up far outstripping the price of tuition. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the flagship of the UMass system, mandatory fees are more than six times the cost of in-state tuition.

And that isn’t the end of it: Students are then hit with still more charges — the $300 “freshman counseling fee,” the $185 “undergraduate entering” fee, and several hundred dollars more if your parents or siblings attend freshman orientation. Honors college and engineering students face still more fees.
A number of forces are driving fees upward. For public institutions, declining state support has left many schools scrambling to find other types of revenue. As well, since the notion of straightforward tuition hikes is often politically toxic, there is considerable appeal to using fees to make up shortfalls.

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Updated cost projections for the Pell Grant program

New America points us to Pell Grant cost projections:

The Congressional Budget Office this week released updated cost projections for the Pell Grant program – and the estimates show an unexpected surplus over the past several years. The figures are much awaited because they dictate what lawmakers must allocate to the program in the upcoming fiscal year 2014 appropriations process if they want to keep the program running at its current level of benefits and with existing eligibility rules.
In 2010 and 2011, those estimates sparked panic. The program was burning through money faster than anyone expected, prompting Congress and the Obama administration to shift funding from other programs and cut parts of the Pell Grant program itself three separate times.

The funding emergency was exacerbated by the fact that congressional lawmakers and the Obama administration had tried to maintain a large increase in the maximum grant, first funded without any long-term funding plan by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The latest round of temporary funding was set to dry up in 2014, leaving a $5.8 billion hole in the program. In 2015, the number would jump to $8.7 billion, and stay at about that level indefinitely.

Luckily for procrastinators in the White House and on Capitol Hill – and for Pell Grant supporters – the latest Congressional Budget Office estimates have come to their rescue. According to CBO, the program was actually overfunded the past few years, leaving a surplus of $9.2 billion. The CBO doesn’t give much explanation as to what changed. For that we’ll have to wait for the president.

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"No payment — no access code — no participation — lower final grade."

by Run 75441 


“No payment — no access code — no participation — lower final grade.”


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Illustration by Jake Parker; http://www.agent44.com/
http://heyoscarwilde.com/jake-parker-oliver-twist/

Now the use of textbooks and the sharing of a new textbook can be stopped with the sale of a yearly access code to engage in discussion boards by students with instructors. The Publishing Industry with the help of one Economics Professor has found a way to stop the sharing of text books amongst students and the sales of old text books to the next incoming classes. New students will be forced to buy a new text book or buy a special code allowing them to use the book new or old. The press release describing the new invention put it in this manner:

“In the case of a used book or pirated download, the student pays for the access code,” according to the press release. “No payment — no access code — no participation — lower final grade.” Professor Patents way . ..

Grades of Students Who Pirate Would be Docked Under Prof’s Plan


Maybe it is just me, but an education which is increasingly  expensive and restrictive as the ways to shave a few dollars off of it are closed to those who only wish to achieve it  from using old text of which more times than naught are out of date after one year. The world and its knowledge turn much faster leaving students to beg for the obsolete education resources paid for by a hefty tuition.

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