Posts Tagged ‘students’

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Readers will remember that, in Evangelii Gaudium, the leader of the Catholic Church developed a scathing critique of trickle-down economics and of the existing economy of inequality and exclusion.

Ironically, thanks to the reporting of Paul Moses [ht: js], based on a recent report by the New America Foundation (pdf), we’ve learned that many Catholic colleges and universities are engaged in their own acts of exclusion.

at a time of escalating worry over access to higher education for the children of the least affluent Americans, the study found that five of the 10 most expensive private universities for low-income students, and 10 of the top 28, are Catholic.

Some Catholic colleges “seem to have departed from what you would assume the principles of their faith would have compelled them to do,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for low-income students.

“It’s disturbing that institutions give money in these very difficult times to students who don’t need it,” Haycock said, and “don’t focus their resources on those who absolutely need it the most.”

Some Catholic colleges have placed a high priority on meeting the needs of very low-income families, while others have limited resources to do so. However,

some of the Catholic colleges that charge the most have robust wealth in the form of their endowments. Saint Louis University has a $956 million endowment; the University of Dayton, $442 million; Catholic University, $264 million; Saint Joseph’s, $193 million; and Loyola of Maryland, $177 million, the National Association of College and University Business Officers reports. Among the other Catholic universities with high net prices for low-income students, Villanova University has an endowment of $419 million and Notre Dame, $6.9 billion.

According to the New American Foundation, my own university, with a $6.9 billion endowment, has an enrollment that includes just 12 percent of Pell Grant students and a net price of more than $15 thousand for low-income students.

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Apparently, this is the way to get attention of the administration on college campuses these days: threaten to cut off $1 million football revenues.

A student engaged in a week-long hunger strike wasn’t able to get the university’s president to address the problem of racism on campus. So, black football players, with the support of other players and coaches, have stopped practicing and have threatened not to play in the scheduled games.

In response to mounting racial tensions at the University of Missouri and an administration’s perceived failure to address students’ concerns, members of the school’s football team have threatened to boycott its remaining games, leaving administrators reeling and emboldening student activists who have been demanding a change in leadership.

Like all such protests, there’s a larger context. This is, of course, the state where, fifteen months ago, Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer.

“The demonstrations by these students are a reflection of where things are going nationally in terms of people being fed up with intolerance,” said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, a St. Louis minister heavily involved in the Ferguson protests. “The notion that the administration would not take a very strong no-tolerance policy toward hatred of any kind is just unconscionable. And the response to the absence of that is what you’re seeing now.”

And this is a president who was hired to run the university like a corporation.

University of Missouri curators saw Wolfe as an ideal successor to Gary Foresee, a former Sprint Nextel CEO who had become the first non-academic to run the college system. Even their praise was couched in business jargon.

“He can sell to others the vital importance of our university,” board of curators chair Warren Erdman told the Rolla Daily News. . .

“I’ve had the great fortune to work with a lot of different companies and executives,” he told the St. Louis Business Journal. “There’s a six degrees of separation and we can get access. Even if you don’t have a personal relationship, you can use your LinkedIn network and can typically find a mutual friend who can initiate an introduction.”

It quickly became clear that Wolfe was being brought in to cut costs in a state where legislators were eager to slash taxes, depriving the university of revenue. . .

One of Wolfe’s first acts was to approve a three percent tuition hike, drawing the ire of parents and students.

A few months later, Wolfe stirred anger again by shutting down the university’s highly regarded publishing house in order to save $400,000 a year. After an outcry from professors and authors across the country, however, Wolfe changed course.

The controversy was heightened by the fact that Wolfe was, at the same time, pushing for a $72 million expansion of the university’s football stadium.

Last year, the board of curators voted to extend Wolfe’s contract, praising him for his business-minded approach.

“President Wolfe has thoughtfully transformed our strategic planning process in a way that focuses our limited resources on priorities while reducing or eliminating waste and redundancies,” the board said in a statement.

This semester, however, Wolfe’s corporate cost-cutting appeared to go too far.  Just a few days before the start of the semester, the university announced it was eliminating subsidies that graduate students use to pay for health insurance.

Graduate students revolted. Thousands, including Butler, protested against the cuts. They issued demands and walked out of classes. Ultimately, the university relented and restored the subsidies.

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[ht: ja]

If there’s one area that isn’t contributing to higher college costs and historic levels of student debt, it’s faculty salaries—especially the pay received by adjunct professors.

According to Caroline Fredrickson,

In 1969, almost 80 percent of college faculty members were tenure or tenure track. Today, the numbers have essentially flipped, with two-thirds of faculty now non-tenure and half of those working only part-time, often with several different teaching jobs. . .

To say that these are low-wage jobs is an understatement. Based on data from the American Community Survey, 31 percent of part-time faculty are living near or below the federal poverty line. And, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, one in four families of part-time faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program like food stamps and Medicaid or qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Known as the “Homeless Prof,” Mary-Faith Cerasoli teaches romance languages and prepares her courses in friends’ apartments when she can crash on a couch, or in her car when the friends can’t take her in. When a student asked to meet with her during office hours, she responded, “Sure, it’s the Pontiac Vibe parked on Stewart Avenue.”