The New York Times recently completed an unusual three-part series entitled "Looting Student Aid: Public Money, Private Gain."
Many of the topics discussed in the piece have been reported before, but it was the first time a major American newspaper has put the pieces together.
The end result makes for interesting reading. The Times finds major problems with the federal government's higher education student-aid plans, including:
"Directors of for-profit trade schools and colleges have looted the budgets of these loosely regulated Federal student aid programs to buy themselves Mercedes-Benzes, travel the world, subsidize a drug habit, invest in religious causes or pay themselves million-dollar salaries."
"Instead of promoting education, some Federal student-aid programs have been used to victimize students." In a Los Angeles congressional district, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters says students use federal loans to matriculate at fly-by-night trade schools and cannot find jobs after they graduate. They default on the loans, can't get credit, and are unable to escape poverty. Taxpayers pick up the tab.
"Education officials, both inside and outside the Government, are well aware of the problem. The Education Secretary, Richard S. Riley, recently called his department's management of its main scholarship program `worse than lax.' Robert Atwell, president of the American Council on Education, representing 1,600 colleges and universities, terms the fraud and abuse `an intolerable embarassment.'"
Carolina Student Turns Self In
A first-year student who placed a letter criticizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the daily newspaper under another student's name has turned himself in, according to a report in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education.
Douglas Nabors wrote the letter in the name of Brian Nance. After the letter appeared, Nance received so many death threats that he had to move off-campus.
Editors at the newspaper, the Carolinian, now promise to check the authorship of the letters they publish. They have postered campus to explain what happened.
Hacker Closes Rice Network
A hacker's attack last month forced Rice University to shut down its student computer network and to sever its link to the Internet.
The problem has since been fixed, according to the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Kevin B. Long, director of computing services at Rice, said the hacker's assault was so sophisticated that the system had to be shut down.
"If we didn't do it, we would have just been forever chasing our tail," Long told the Chronicle. "We haven't made ourselves completely bulletproof...What we have done is make ourselves a little more bullet-resistant."
Universities Sign Cola Contracts
Like movie theaters and professional sports teams, many universities are signing exclusive contracts with Cola companies, according to the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Oregon State has signed with Coke. Penn State has signed with Pepsi.
Universities have extracted several concessions from the bottlers, including donations. Companies see the colleges as ways to expand the business, and increase the bottom line.
Stanford Divided By Remarks
Remarks by a professor of political science have sharply divided students at Stanford.
The Chronicle of Higher Ed reported this week that Stephen Krasner called white Christians "underrepresented" and Jews and Asians "overrepresented" on the Northern Californian campus.
Krasner, who is Jewish, made his remarks during a meeting of the Faculty Senate. The professor said he wanted more frank discussion of affirmative action.
"Without more information, it is impossible to know what an affirmative action program means," Krasner said.
Liberals at Stanford claim that the administration is moving to the right. Yale professor Stephen Carter, a critic of affirmative action, has already been invited to speak at Stanford's Commencement in June.