Tag Archives: College

Florida Bans So-Called Campus ‘Free Speech Zones’

(DCNF) Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Sunday eliminating “free speech zones,” which are known for restricting free speech on campuses to a certain location.

SB 4, which also enables students to levy state lawsuits against public universities that violate students’ rights to expression, cleared the Florida Senate in a 33-5 vote after passing the state House in an 84-28 vote, reported the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a free speech nonprofit group.

“Students at public colleges and universities in Florida should not have their free speech quarantined by overly restrictive policies,” FIRE legislative and policy director Joe Cohn said in a press release. “Now that Florida’s Campus Free Expression Act is law, these egregious policies of censorship must be rescinded immediately.”

Florida is the ninth state to ban “free speech zones” and FIRE’s executive director Robert Shibley mentioned in a press release his hope that the U.S. would proceed with a nationwide ban on the policies restricting student speech.

FIRE has cataloged how friendly 13 Florida universities are to free speech, judging them with a colored system in which a green light signifies a full embrace of free speech and a red light indicates significant resistance in terms of policies. The nonprofit rates the University of Florida and the University of North Florida with green lights, the University of Miami and Florida State University with red lights, and the remaining seven schools with yellow lights.

“Today is a huge victory for current and future college students across the Sunshine State who will no longer be discouraged from fully expressing their ideas and beliefs,” Demetrius Minor, Florida’s coalitions director for center-right young adult advocacy group Generation Opportunity, said in a press release. “We thank Governor Scott, as well as Speaker Corcoran, Senate President Negron, Rep. Rommel, Sen. Baxley and others who fought hard to ensure that Orwellian “free speech zones” are a thing of the past in Florida.”

Written by: Rob Shimshock
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This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Mizzou Loses Around 1,500 Students, Faces Massive Budget Shortfalls

By Blake Neff – The University of Missouri (MU) is losing about 1500 students and is facing a huge $32 million budget shortfall four months after it attracted national attention as the site of massive race-based campus protests.

“I am writing to you today to confirm that we project a very significant budget shortfall due to an unexpected sharp decline in first-year enrollments and student retention this coming fall. I wish I had better news,” said MU interim chancellor Hank Foley in a Wednesday letter to school staff that was obtained by Fox Sports.

According to Foley’s letter, MU will have about 1500 fewer students in fall 2016 compared to last year, an unexpected drop that is in turn causing a big dip in the school’s tuition income.

Because of the abrupt and unexpected nature of the shortfall, Foley is taking immediate and severe steps to fix the situation: The school budget is being cut 5 percent across the board, all hiring is being frozen (barring exceptional circumstances), and annual raises have been canceled. He has also announced a new, more intensive effort to recruit potential Mizzou students by phone, email, and even via Skype.

Even with all these measures, Foley anticipates MU having a deficit of about $1o million,which he said would be made up using the school’s reserve funds.

In November 2015, MU was rocked by major protests led by the Concerned Student 1950 group, which accused President Timothy Wolfe of not doing enough to address racial tensions on campus. After black players on the school football team announced a strike, Wolfe resigned and the school caved to a host of other protester demands. Meanwhile, the same day of Wolfe’s resignation, communications professor Melissa Click grabbed headlines for attacking a student journalist who tried to cover the ongoing protests.

Now, while Click and Wolfe are gone, the consequences of that turbulent November continue to reverberate, not the least because Concerned Student 1950 continues to engage in very public protests while demanding even more concessions from the school.

It was already known that MU had seen a drop in applications following the protests, but Foley’s letter drives home just how big a blow the school has been dealt.

Foley doesn’t break down the 1,500 lost student by class year, but the bulk of the decline comes from a major dip in the size of the entering freshman class. How major? In 2015, MU had 6,200 freshman undergraduates, meaning its freshman class size may have shrunk by 20 percent or more, an incredible swing for a single year.

Notably, Foley’s letter makes no mention of the protests as a potential factor in Mizzou’s declining appeal.

Foley also is unlikely to have much luck in turning to Missouri lawmakers for support. Disgusted by the university’s actions last fall, Republicans have refused to increase its budget and have even been considering making a big cut to the school’s state support.

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Mizzou Diversity Director Tells Protesters To Grow Up, Stop Making Insane Demands

By Blake Neff – The chief diversity officer at the University of Missouri (MU) has authored a letter sharply reprimanding the school’s black activist movement, urging it to stop relying on threats and impossible demands.

“If you sincerely want better relationships, the time for demands, threats and arbitrary deadlines is over — you don’t need them,” said Chuck Henson, who was appointed as MU’s interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity following massive campus protests last fall. The letter, written Thursday, was obtained and released by the Columbia Missourian Friday night.

Last week, Concerned Student 1950, the activist group that helped force out MU president Timothy Wolfe last fall, released a new set of demands, which largely reiterates previous commands that have gone unmet. Some of the demands that were emphasized included a call for an “academic bankruptcy program” (essentially letting students void the results of an entire term), an expansion in the number of black faculty and the erection of a statue of 1930s civil rights activist Lloyd Gaines on campus. Many of the demands have explicit deadlines, and the group has emphasized that the school will be made to fulfill them “by any means necessary.”

But according to Henson, the group is presenting its demands in a flatly unacceptable manner. Not only that, but many of them are impossible.

“[T]here are things, like hiring faculty or staff, or admitting students based on protected characteristics to meet a numerical target, [that] will not and cannot be done,” he said. “It is against state and federal law. It also is a bad model for a sustainable community.” Similarly, he said demands that course curricula be changed was purely the responsibility of faculty, and could not be meddled with by administrators without quashing academic freedom.

Henson also faulted activists for apparently avoiding a face-to-face meeting with school administrators.

“For my part, I have been seeking you out. I have invited you to come see me,” Henson said in the letter. “However, as yet we haven’t met. Had you accepted my invitation to meet face-to-face, you would already know the answers to most of the issues raised in your recent communication.”

The diversity director suggested that activists try attending meetings of The Working Group, a body created by MU’s administration in order to transparently reform the school following mass protests last fall. Despite its intention of changing MU with student input, few people seem to have attended Working Group meetings.

At the least, Concerned Student 1950 can’t accuse Henson of flaunting his white privilege, as Henson himself is a black man.

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Univ Warns Profs To Avoid Sensitive Topics Since Armed Students May Snap And Kill Them

By Blake Neff – The University of Houston’s (UH) faculty senate has issued a strong set of warnings to professors suggesting they avoid controversial topics in order to avoid provoking armed students.

Last year, Texas’s legislature passed S.B. 11, which requires public colleges to allow the concealed carry of handguns on campus by those who have permits to do so. Faculty at many schools have responded with outrage, claiming the law, which takes effect next August, exposes them to undue danger.

The PowerPoint slide created by UH’s faculty senate to advise faculty about the new law represents one of the most hyperbolic reactions by academia yet, suggesting they all substantially alter their behavior to avoid the risk of an armed student flying off the handle and gruesomely gunning them down.

“Drop certain topics from your curriculum,” it warns. “[Do] not ‘go there’ if you sense anger. Limit student access off hours … only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”

A photo of the slide was posted online by a UH doctoral student, with a full copy later appearing at Inside Higher Ed:

The slide was written by Jonathan Snow, an earth science professor and the president of the faculty senate. Snow told Inside Higher Ed the slide was intended to encapsulate the danger to academic freedom posed by the new law.

“The intrusion of gun culture onto campus inevitably harms the academic enterprise in a myriad of ways,” he said. Maria Gonzalez, an English professor, expressed a similar fear that a “volatile” student in her class could snap and resort to violence during a lecture on Marxist or queer theory.

While the recommendations were created by the faculty senate, UH administrators were quick to point out the guidelines were not endorsed by the university itself.

Despite the faculty senate’s fears, it’s not clear legalizing campus carry will drastically increase the danger posed to professors. Campus carry is already legal in several states, including Colorado and Utah, but there has been no spate of faculty assassinations attributable to them.

The slideshow is just the latest example of faculty expressing their widespread opposition to the new law. Hundreds of faculty at the University of Texas have signed a petition against the new law, and one of them has even blamed the law for his decision to accept a new academic position with the University of Sydney.

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3 States Consider Lowering the Drinking Age

BY JEFFREY A. TUCKER – At last, cracks in America’s draconian drinking-age edifice are starting to appear. A movement is developing that would make US law like most other civilized countries in the world.

New Hampshire is considering legislation that would allow people 18 and older to consume wine and beer (but not liquor) in a public, commercial establishment, as long as they are accompanied by someone over 21.

A bill in the Minnesota state legislature would do the same.

And next November, California will vote on a ballot initiative that would simply lower the drinking age to 18 across the board. The states would lose eight percent of federal highway funding, but they could expect to make up the difference in alcohol sales.

It’s long past time. Will they pass? Probably not this time. Nationally, a lower drinking age is supported by only 25 percent of the population. That’s better than the 20 percent in 2001. But it is not enough for real momentum for a legal change. A major problem concerns widespread ignorance about the secret world of underage drinking that has emerged over the decades.

At least the debate has begun.

In the 1970s, 29 states chose to lower their drinking ages to 18, 19, or 20. But fear of drunk driving prompted a backlash, culminating in a national minimum drinking age law. In 1984, in a fit of unwarranted faith in the ability of government power to control social outcomes, Congress imposed (that is, extorted the states into imposing) a national drinking age of 21-years old, effectively prohibiting the sale or public consumption of alcohol for millions of young adults.

Since then, studies have shown that alcohol poisoning is going through the roof among college students. Two-thirds of people between 18 and 21 years of age admit to binge drinking within the last month. Twenty percent show all signs of alcohol use disorder (in other words, alcoholism). Death by alcohol poisoning among this age group has tripled since the law.

An entrenched culture of private, secretive drinking has emerged on campus and elsewhere, in places like frat houses, dorm rooms, and nearby rentals, where binging from trash barrels full of random liquor is the norm. It’s no surprise that over half of sexual victimizations among college students involve alcohol consumption. To drink legitimately and in public requires fake IDs, stolen IDs, incessant lying, corruption, and so on.

To understand the magnitude, consider what you know about Prohibition in the 1920s: the speakeasies, crime, bootlegging, corruption, poisoning, violence, and so on. It was a destructive failure that was mercifully repealed. Now transfer that whole culture to modern times and focus it on the least responsible adult age group — 18 to 21 — often away from their parents for the first time. For them, it’s the Roaring Twenties all over again but without adult supervision.

The world of youth drinking is, surprisingly, mostly unknown to adults. It’s all come about since the passage of the 1984 legislation on the drinking age. Consider the hilarious and tragic essay “My Shady Life as an Underage Drinker”:

[quote_box_center]One particularly bad night comes to mind. My friends all decided to go to the local bars one Saturday night. Because a lot of them didn’t have fakes, there was no guarantee they could drink. So of course that meant the night had to start with pregaming at a friend’s apartment. Shotgunning Natty after Natty, taking pulls from handles of whiskey, slapping wine bags and so on. Everyone was pretty much at their limit before we headed out. Or at least, I know I was. The rest of the night was a blur.[/quote_box_center]

If you are in the age group, you understand the language and experience exactly. If you are not, here is a guide. To “shotgun” is to poke a hole in the bottom of a beer can so that the entire contents is forced into your mouth. A “natty” is slang for a “Natural Light,” a cheap beer made by Anheuser-Busch. “Pulls” from a “handle” means to turn a large bottle of liquor upside down and drink it straight. To “slap” a wine bag means to remove the bag from box wine, put the spout in your mouth and drink it straight while moving the resulting bubbles in the bag so that the wine flows more quickly.

The essay continues on to describe wandering a city in a barely conscious state and blacking out on a sofa, waking up to a surprise to find yourself in a place you never intended to be. If it sounds awful and horrible, consider that it does give you a wonderful story to tell. And having such stories has become a rite of passage for this age group. It suggests daring-do and social acumen — just as finding the right speakeasies and bathtub gin in the 1920s was for the general population.

What good would lowering the drinking age do? It would put an end to the perverse culture of secretiveness and abuse that has grown up around underage drinking. It would allow bars and restaurants to become “safe spaces” for college-age students to drink and Uber home if they need to. Proponents will undoubtedly also emphasize the revenue gains for the state that would come from legalization.

But the longer-term gains would be cultural. We could begin to foster a more European-style culture of drinking that promotes responsibility and civilized sobriety. People are more likely to act like adults if you treat them as adults. Prohibition has promoted a horrible childishness with terrible results for everyone.

What about the fears of drunk driving? It really is a separate problem that laws against drunk driving are designed to address. And as for the claim from MADD that raising the drinking age to 21 has saved 20,000 lives, there is no basis for it at all.

No, lowering the drinking age would not create utopia, and it does introduce a different set of problems. The difference is that these problems can be dealt with in the same way that society deals with other problems: family, education, cultural change, liability, and institutional supervision. Society can’t even begin to deal with the problems of youth drinking as long as it exists in dark, hidden corners. The national drinking age has had terrible consequences. As with Prohibition, it’s time we admit it and move on, into the light.



This article was republished with permission from FEE.org

Mike Rowe Defends Trade Jobs, College Alternatives in Response to Bernie Sanders Tweet

A Bernie Sanders tweet issued Monday inspired actor and television host Mike Rowe, best known as the former host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and the current host of CNN’s Somebody’s Gotta Do It, to write an open post directed at Sanders on Facebook defending trade jobs and alternatives to college.

Sanders’ above-embedded tweet, aimed at justifying the cost of his plan to provide government-subsidized college tuition for all Americans, struck Rowe as implicitly equivocating the failure to go to college with a pipeline to jail.

I wonder sometimes, if the best way to question the increasingly dangerous idea that a college education is the best path for the most people, is to stop fighting the sentiment directly, and simply shine a light on the knuckleheads who continue to perpetuate this nonsense. This latest tweet from Bernie Sanders is a prime example. In less than 140 characters, he’s managed to imply that a path to prison is the most likely alternative to a path to college. Pardon my acronym, but…WTF!?” said Rowe in a Facebook post.

[RELATED: Rand Paul Challenges Bernie Sanders To Hour-Long Debate On Socialism vs. Capitalism]

Rowe added, “The implicit suggestion, reinforced daily by a generation of well-intended guidance counselors and misguided parents, is always the same – get yourself a four-year degree, or accept one of the many ‘vocational consolation prizes’ that result from all other forms of ‘lesser knowledge.’ But now, as people are slowly starting to understand the obscenity of 1.3 trillion dollars in student loans, along with the abundance of opportunity for those with the proper training, it seems the proponents of ‘college for all’ need something even more frightening than the prospect of a career in the trades to frighten the next class into signing on the dotted line. According to Senator Sanders, that ‘something,’ is a path to jail.

According to Lifehacker, college graduates only make $90,000 more on average over a 30-year period when compared to trade school graduates, with the average bachelor’s degree costing $127,000 and taking at least four years to complete. Vocational training costs an average of $33,000 and can be completed in as little time as 2 years. A SimplyHired.com estimate puts the average income earned by a trade school graduate at around $42,000 per year. Two extra years of income at $42,000 per year leaves the average college graduate only $6,000 richer than the average trade school graduate over a 30-year period. Meanwhile, the college graduate faces risky student loan debt and the possibility that changes to the economy could render some degree specializations worthless after such a significant investment of time and money.

[RELATED: Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition]

This is the first time I’ve seen an elected official support the hyper-inflated cost of a diploma by juxtaposing it with the hyper-inflated cost of incarceration. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it,” Rowe continued in his post. “Is it possible that Senator Sanders doesn’t realize the number of college graduates with criminal records? Is he unaware of the millions of successful tradespeople and entrepreneurs who didn’t pay for a sheepskin, but somehow managed to stay of the clink? Does he not recognize that comments like his will encourage more kids who are better suited for an alternative path to borrow vast sums of money they’ll never be able to pay back in order to pay for a degree that won’t get them a job?

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U.S. Students Participate in ‘Million Student March’ Over Debt, Free College

Students in universities across the United States participated in the “Million Student March” on Thursday, leaving their classrooms to advocate for changes in the higher public education system.

The march called for free public college tuition, the elimination of all current student debt, and a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers. The organizers noted that individual marches could also touch on higher pay for adjunct professors.

Reuters reported that over a hundred schools pledged to join the march, and about 50 students were seen at Northeastern University carrying signs that read “Degrees not receipts” and “Is this a school or a corporation?”

Marches were also reported on social media at schools such as Texas State Universitythe University of California, Berkeley, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Texas.

“Education should be free. The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education,” the organizers stated. “We are united to fight for education as a human right.”

The march occurred days after the president at the University of Missouri resigned following protests from the school’s football team, and after a national “Fight for $15” campaign calling for a nationwide $15 minimum wage held large rallies across the country, “many of which were led or bolstered by student activists.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt currently stands at $1.2 trillion under the Obama administration, which is more than double the figure of less than $600 billion under the Bush administration in 2006.

Students at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, carried signs that said things such as “Banks got bailed out, students got sold out,” and chanted “Fight! Fight! Fight! Education is a right!”

The university’s radio station, KTSW 89.9, reported that students marched “until they reached the President’s House, where protesters gathered to voice their opinions and demands,” and that “several students that were against these demands approached the protest,” with one stating that the marchers’ “demands were absurd and wouldn’t resolve anything.”


As students from Penn, Drexel, and the Community College of Philadelphia gathered to protest at City Hall, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported that the protests were sparked by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

In June, Sanders said Republicans in Congress would be forced to act on student debt if a million young people marched on Washington.

Obama Admin Will Forgive Up To $3.6 BILLION In Student Loans

By Blake Neff

The Department of Education announced Monday that it is implementing a plan to forgive as much as $3.6 billion in student loans given to students attending schools affiliated with the defunct for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges.

Corinthian was once one of the biggest players in for-profit colleges, but abruptly fell apart in 2014 amid accusations that it was inflating graduates’ job placement rates and attempting to defraud the federal government. In the course of the investigation, Corinthian lost the right to draw federal student loans, and since those loans provided the vast majority of its revenue, the college swiftly fell into bankruptcy. That left tens of thousands of students out in the cold, while the college itself has become a punching bag for those critical of alleged predatory behaviors by for-profit education companies.

Since then, many have called for the government to offer loan forgiveness for students they say were exploited by Corinthian. Notably, about 200 former students have taken part in a “debt strike,” refusing to make any payments on their student loans. The delinquent borrowers claim they were tricked by false job placement rates and also were never notified their schools were under a federal investigation placing them at risk of closure.


Ordinarily, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy or forgiven without spending at least a decade on a federal repayment plan. Exceptions, however, exist for fraud and for schools that shut down. Previously, only a few thousand students still attending Corinthian when its last campuses closed in April were eligible to have their student loans forgiven. Under the newly-announced plan, any student attending a Corinthian-affiliated school after June 20 of last year will be eligible, ballooning the number of people eligible for forgiveness by tens of thousands.

The overall cost of this forgiveness could be quite high. Overall, $3.6 billion in federal student loans were given to 350,000 Corinthian students since 2010. While it’s very unlikely that all of those students will seek or qualify for forgiveness, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters in a conference call Monday that the Department has no way of knowing just how high the forgiveness figure will go. A “special master” will be in charge of overseeing the process of determining what students qualify, but any Corinthian student who applies for forgiveness will be allowed to cease payments while their case is being considered.

Such a large-scale forgiveness of student debt is unprecedented in U.S. history.

“No previous administration, no state and no Congress has ever done this,” Duncan said. Nevertheless, some activists say it isn’t enough. The Debt Collective, which organized the Corinthian debt strike, says the Obama Administration should go much further and totally forgive the debts of every single Corinthian student, even those who have graduated or successfully transferred credits to another school.

“The legal and most painless possible process for students is no process—they deserve an automatic discharge of their debts,” the Collective said in a blog post. “The Department of Education’s ‘solution’ is a bureaucratically tortured process designed to provide relief only to those who hear about it and can figure out how to navigate unnecessary red tape.”

On the other side of the issue, some Republicans have criticized the new plan for going too far, arguing that easy forgiveness is setting a bad precedent that puts taxpayers on the hook for the wrongdoing of private colleges.

“Students have been hurt, but the department is establishing a precedent that puts taxpayers on the hook for what a college may have done,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate’s education committee, said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “If your car is a lemon you don’t sue the bank that made the auto loan; you sue the car company?”

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Stapleton: Progressives Now Fear the Demon They Created: Social Justice Backfires on College Campuses

I’ve said for years that progressives don’t think logically. They think emotionally. Every decision they make, be it political or personal, is always filtered through how they “feel.” This not only leads to bad personal decisions but also bad political decisions. It stifles debate, the free exchange of ideas and even free speech.

But that doesn’t matter much to the current generation of college students who think they have a right to not be offended. These ideas have been promoted and fostered in the halls of academia for 30 years and now even college professors are afraid of what they’ve created.

All that and much more will be discussed today on The Jason Stapleton Program.

The Jason Stapleton Program is live from 11:05 am to noon eastern. Enjoy replays from earlier episodes before and after the live show. You can also find recorded episodes on iTunes.

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Texas House Passes Amended Campus Carry Bill

On Tuesday, the Texas State House approved a bill that would require public universities to allow concealed handguns on campus. The bill, which originated in the Senate, was passed minutes before its midnight deadline. A final vote in the House, and further negotiations with the Senate will determine whether it is sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law by June 1.

Senate Bill 11 was passed after House Republicans added language that exempted health facilities, let universities create “gun-free zones,” and made private colleges follow the lead of the public universities, according to the Texas Tribune.

CBS News noted that although the legislation looked like it was destined to fail, “with more than 100 amendments lined up in a Democratic effort to kill it,” Democrats removed the amendments about 25 minutes before the midnight deadline, and the measure was approved, 101-47.

The Texas Tribune noted that the House’s version of the bill is a “significant departure from the legislation that passed the Senate.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, the bill must be approved by a majority of House members one more time before it goes back to the Senate, where “differences would be ironed out in a conference committee,” and where “opponents of the legislation expect there could be deadlock.”

The Texas Tribune reported that Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Houston) introduced the legislation on the House floor on Tuesday night, leaving lawmakers two and a half hours to debate more than 100 amendments that had been added by Democrats.

Although Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), an opponent of the measure, brought a point of order against the bill, he withdrew his challenge after 30 minutes of discussion. Martinez Fischer said that he thought one of the two amendments added – requiring private universities to follow the lead of public universities – might be enough to kill the legislation before the final vote.

“Tomorrow morning there are going to be a number of powerful people — maybe alumni, donors, board members — who are going to say we better get sensible, practical and realistic about our gun policies in the state of Texas,” Martinez said.

Fletcher said he felt the legislation is necessary to ensure college students’ right to defend themselves. “The idea that this bill will increase any increase in violence is unfounded,” Fletcher said. “We should not unarm them or disarm them.”

Texas Professor To America: You Can’t HANDLE Gun Ownership

By Scott Greer

The deadly Sunday biker battle at a Waco, Texas breastaurant has convinced one University of Texas at Austin professor that Americans aren’t cut out for the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

John Traphagan, a professor of religious studies and anthropology at UTA, wrote in an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News that the most overlooked security threat to this country is its “own heavily armed population” and that America’s culture does not “lend itself well to allowing the proliferation of guns.”

“Americans do not seem to be able to handle gun ownership in a way that permits maintenance of a civil society,” Traphagan stated.

“There is simply no need for a civilized society to tolerate the type of gun-related violence that Americans seem to accept as normal,” the professor continued. “Other modern industrial countries have realized, in some cases long ago, that it is unnecessary for people in a free society to have easy access to guns.”

He also dismissed notions that making it easier for citizens to purchase firearms would make society safer. In this professor’s opinion, only gun control would make America “more secure.”

“The solution to gun-related crime is not further arming the public,” Traphagan declared. “It involves enacting comprehensive gun control laws that prohibit many forms of gun ownership, significantly curtailing or eliminating access to and the ability to purchase guns, and implementing programs in which the government confiscates or purchases illegal guns already in circulation among the public.”

He concludes, “our proven inability to handle widespread gun ownership suggests strongly that the way to do this [solve the issue of gun violence] is to deeply restrict access to and ownership of most types of guns.”

Even though, Traphagan is confident that this will resolve America’s apparent gun problem, a 2014 study by a Quinnipiac University professor showed that in states that instituted measures that restricted gun ownership — such as banning concealed-carry and the purchase of assault rifles — there was either no substantial effect on firearm-related murders or the states saw the number of gun-related deaths go up.

The study concluded that “restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders at the state level.”

[H/T Campus Reform]

Hillary Visits College, Puts Students On Lockdown

By Blake Neff 

Hillary Clinton’s effort to meet with some ordinary Iowa college students during her van tour have apparently inconvenienced those unlucky enough to be caught in her path, according to the Independent Journal Review.

Clinton’s campaign touted her visit to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids as an opportunity to discuss education policy and college affordability on the campaign trail:

However, while some students were meeting with Hillary, according to other students at the school, classrooms that sat along Hillary’s planned walking route were put on lockdown, often leaving students stuck in classrooms until the presidential candidate was no longer nearby.

Some students who weren’t on lockdown instead found their classes canceled entirely, because Hillary’s event took up the entire first floor of the building it was in, even though only a few students were directly participating:

Clinton’s campaign has pushed her van trip across Iowa as an effort to have “conversations with everyday Iowans.”

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147 Killed By Al-Shabab Militants During Attack On Kenyan University

On Thursday, the campus of Garissa University, a college in northeast Kenya, was stormed by a group of Al-Shabab militants. Kenya’s Interior Minister, Joseph Nkaissery, told reporters that 147 people were killed along with four gunmen, and 79 people were wounded.

Nkaissery ordered a “dusk to dawn curfew” in Garissa, along with the neighboring counties of Mandera, Tana River and Wajir.

The Associated Press reported that Kenyan security officials on the scene said the gunfire has ended, dozens who were being held hostage by the militants have been freed, four suspected gunmen have been killed, and the death toll may be as high as 150.

According to the New York Times, Kenyan security forces surrounded the university’s campus, and spent the day clashing with the gunmen, who officials said were wearing “combat gear,” and “either bulletproof vests or suicide bomb vests,” before cornering them in a dormitory.

Mwenda Njoka, a spokesman for Kenya’s interior ministry posted a statement on Twitter warning that if anyone were to publish gory pictures from the attack, legal action would be taken against them:

The New York Times reported that the Somalia-based extremist group Al Shabab, “issued a statement through a radio station it controls claiming responsibility for the attack,” and said that when its fighters attacked the university early Thursday morning, they “began separating Muslims from non-Muslims” and started an “operation against the infidels.

The Associated Press reported that while most of the 147 victims were students, two police officers, one soldier and two watchmen were also killed, making this the highest death toll in an attack by members of Al Shabab.

Oklahoma University Expels 2 Students for Leading Fraternity’s Racist Chant

Following the circulation of a viral video that showed members of the Oklahoma University chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) singing a racist chant, the university has severed ties with the fraternity and has expelled two students who participated in the chant.

David Boren, the President of OU, released a statement on Tuesday announcing the expulsion of two students who were “leaders in the singing of a racist chant.”

I have emphasized that there is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma.” Boren said. “I hope that the entire nation will join us in having zero tolerance of such racism when it raises its ugly head in other situations across the country.”

We will continue our investigation of all the students engaged in the singing of this chant,” Boren said. “Once their identities have been confirmed, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.”

Boren originally responded to the video with a statement released on Monday in which he said that the university was severing all ties with the local SAE chapter, and closing its fraternity house.

In addition to the SAE members on board the bus in the video, there were women present who were initially identified as members of the sorority Delta Delta Delta. The sorority’s OU chapter released a statement to the university’s newspaper claiming that they are not under investigation by the university, and that none of their chapter members have been officially identified in the video.

On Monday, the OU football team cancelled practice to protest the racist acts. Wearing all black, and walking arm and arm, the players marched into the practice facility and declared that they would not be practicing. The move was approved by Head Football Coach Bob Stoops, who posted a picture of the players’ protest on his Twitter account, with the caption, “#notonOUrcampus.”

Eli Weathers, a junior accounting, finance and political science major at OU, told Benswann.com that he would describe SAE as a “well-known fraternity on campus.” He said that as news of the incident has escalated quickly, and it has become a national issue, four out of his five professors have addressed it in class over the last two days.

Since it has become such a public issue, talking about it has almost become unavoidable,” said Weathers. He added that almost all of the comments he has heard, from both professors and students, have condemned the racist acts as unacceptable.

Weathers told Benswann.com that he doesn’t think the incident involving SAE is isolated solely to the fraternity, or to its chapter at OU, and that he believes it is more of an overreaching issue that involves all “secret/exclusive” societies.

“In almost every ‘secret/exclusive’ society there are comments made about the people that aren’t in them,” Weathers said. “This may be against a race, socio-economic group, or any other group of people that aren’t in that society.”

Weathers concluded by saying that during his time at OU he has never witnessed any explicit, racist speech, and he does not expect to. “I believe the University of Oklahoma fosters an environment that celebrates diversity and condemns such behavior,” Weathers said.

Similar scandals involving fraternities have also been reported at schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University.

Raw Story posted a picture on Tuesday of a list of rules for fraternity members that was displayed outside the house of the University of Texas’ chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. The rules listed on the flyer included “no fagetry,” “no interracial dating,” and “no Mexicans.”

UT’s campus newspaper, The Daily Texan, reported that the image originally surfaced in 2007 and its authenticity “has never been verified.”

The Texas Tech University chapter of Phi Delta Theta came under fire in Sept. 2014 after obscene images of a sign that condoned rape surfaced from one of the fraternity’s parties and were reported by the Huffington Post.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the international Phi Delta Theta fraternity placed its Texas Tech chapter in escrow, and severed ties with its members who “directly violated organizational policy.” Texas Tech responded to the incident by creating a “task force” to oversee all fraternities and sororities affiliated with the university.

On Tuesday, the editorial board of Texas Tech’s campus newspaper, the Daily Toreador, wrote an article condemning the university’s response to the vulgar acts of Phi Delta Theta, when compared to the way Oklahoma University officials responded to the racist acts of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Oklahoma officials should be commended for their swift and decisive response,” the editorial board wrote. “Oklahoma’s response looks even more timely and appropriate when compared to Texas Tech’s response to a similar incident that took place in September.”

Could Concealed Carry Stop Rape on College Campuses?

The debate over carrying concealed guns on college campuses is being looked at from a new angle, with advocates arguing that if students are allowed to carry a firearm, it could deter sexual assault.

The New York Times reported that although carrying concealed firearms on college campuses is illegal in 41 states, lawmakers in 10 states are pushing bills that would end the ban, and they are “hoping that the national spotlight on sexual assault will help them win passage of their measures.

The 10 states include Florida, Indiana, Montana, NevadaOklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who is sponsoring a bill for concealed carry on college campuses in Nevada, told the New York Times that she predicts her bill will pass, due to the fact that Nevada has both a Republican-controlled Legislature and a Republican Governor, and that if passed, it will make a major difference on college campuses.

If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” Fiore said. “The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”

As previously reported, Taylor Woolrich, a senior at Dartmouth University, advocated for concealed carry on her college campus after she was stalked by 67-year-old Richard Bennett, even with the presence of a restraining order.

Dartmouth thinks banning weapons will keep students safe, but a gun ban isn’t going to stop him from attacking me,” said Woolrich. “If Dartmouth, a restraining order, and law enforcement can’t guarantee my safety, then I’m asking for the right to do so.”

John Foubert, an Oklahoma State University professor and the president of One in Four, a program that seeks to educate students about sexual assault on college campuses, told the New York Times that he thinks using sexual assaults to push for concealed carry “reflects a misunderstanding of sexual assaults in general.”

If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun,” Joubert said. “Maybe if it’s someone who raped you before and is coming back, it theoretically could help them feel more secure.”

On Monday, a bill to allow concealed carry on college campuses was passed by Florida’s Senate Criminal Justice Committee, with a 3-2 vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Committee Chairman Greg Evers told the Tallahassee Democrat that due to the number of registered sexual offenders living near Florida State University, he believes the bill will fix a safety issue on the campus.

The problem is that in gun-free zones, that we have on college campuses right now, those gun-free zones are just an incubator for folks that won’t follow the law,” Evers said.

Crayle Vanest, a senior at Indiana University and the first woman on the national board of Students for Concealed Carry, told the New York Times that the group’s female membership has seen a dramatic increase.

Universities are under a ton of investigation for how they handle sexual assaults,” said Vanest. “Our female membership has increased massively. People who weren’t listening before are listening now.”

Obama Promotes “Free” Community College Plan That Would Cost $80 Billion

On Friday, President Obama introduced a new plan to make community college “free” for students in the United States. While alleviating the cost for students during their first two years, the federal government would pay $60 billion of Obama’s $80 billion program, and the states would be forced to come up with the remaining $20 billion, over the course of 10 years.

Obama made his announcement at the Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, while on a tour to promote some of the items he will present in his next State of the Union address, on January 20. Reuters noted that the upcoming address will be Obama’s “first to the U.S. Congress since Republicans won the Senate in November elections.”

During his speech in Knoxville, Obama said that due to the fact that he was “not running for office anymore,” he would just be presenting the facts.

I’m going to announce one of my most important State of the Union proposals, and that’s helping every American afford a higher education,” Obama said.

Calling the investment in education, America’s hallmark, and putting an emphasis on the importance of attending community college, Obama announced his plan to create “America’s College Promise.

Community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it,” said Obama. “Because in America, a quality education cannot be a privilege that is reserved for a few.

While Obama said that he wanted to make community college tuition “free” for students, the cost would then be transferred to other entities.

During a press conference on Friday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz admitted that Obama’s plan is a “significant investment.”

Schultz explained that 75 percent of the cost, or $60 billion, would be paid by the federal government, over 10 years, while 25 percent would be paid by the states.

Given the interest in the cost, I wanted to let you know that it is going to be roughly $60 billion over 10 years,” said Schultz, who went on to say that the plan is one the President “believes is worthwhile,” and that there is “no better ticket to the middle class than a college education.”

According to RT, while Obama’s plan alleviates the cost of community college, which “averaged $3,347 in the 2014-2015 school year,” it does nothing to address the “skyrocketing cost of tuition at four-year universities, where many community college students transfer after one or two years,” which averaged $9,139 at public, and $31,231 at private colleges.

Obama announced the program in Tennessee, due to the fact that he hoped to model his own “College Promise” after a program the state already has in place called the “Tennessee Promise.”

Although Obama has the support of the Governor of Tennessee, Republican Bill Haslam, who created the state’s program, he has been met with criticism by other Tennessee lawmakers for trying to bring the program to the federal level.

Following Obama’s announcement about the plan, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, said that he thought the program should be left at the state level. “You’re always better off letting states mimic each other,” said Corker.

Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, a Democrat, and an architect of Tennessee’s HOPE college program, told the New York Times that Obama’s promise to make a program that will help the middle class, while modeling the current program in Tennessee, is flawed due to the fact that Tennessee’s program tends to help “more affluent and lower-achieving students,” instead of those with the “greatest financial need and the best chance of excelling academically.”

He shouldn’t be holding Tennessee Promise out as a model because it’s not a model,” said Cohen. “It’s a facade to cover up what is a dying system that hasn’t been funded.”

Congress Cuts Aid for Student Grants…Gives the Money to Student Loan Contractors

As the United States government prepares its budget for the next year, and attempts to avoid another shut-down, Congress has agreed on a bill that would cut $303 million from the nation’s largest source of student grants, and would give it to student loan contractors.

The Washington Post reported that the measure was “championed by Senate Democrats,” and intends to cut funding to the $33.7 billion Pell Grant program, which aided nearly nine million students in the 2013-2014 school year.

According to the Huffington Post, the money that is taken from the Pell Grant program will be given to the Department of Education’s loan contractors, who will “get up to $721.7 million,” which is a “nearly $44 million increase” from the 2013 fiscal year.

Budget documents from the Department of Education show that during the 2012-2013 school year, three out of every four students who received funding from the Pell Grant program came from households with less than $30,000 in annual income, and were given an average $3,826 from the program.

The Huffington Post reported that this change “comes at a time when the Education Department’s loan servicers are under intense scrutiny,” from Federal officials who have “accused them of mistreating borrowers and hurting taxpayers.

The proposal to decrease funding to the Pell Grant program, giving it to student loan contractors instead, was first introduced over the summer by Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa and the outgoing chairman of the sub-committee on education.

Harkin released a statement saying, “This bill takes a thoughtful approach to funding these critical programs because it funds America’s priorities and it is how we invest in our future.”

According to the Washington Post, Harkin’s “history of advocating for college affordability,” has made student advocates “disappointed that he would jeopardize such a critical source of education funding.”

Jennifer Wang, the policy director for Young Invincibles, an advocacy group that encourages young adults to become more educated and involved in politics, said that whenever a new spending bill is introduced, the group is constantly worried about what implication it might have on the Pell Grant program.

We have seen funding shortfalls in the past and Congress always ends up having to find additional dollars elsewhere to fund the program,” said Wang. “Why put students in that position again?”


Students Reprimanded for Handing Out U.S. Constitutions Outside “Free Speech Zone”

Last week, four students at Southern Oregon University were told by administrators that they must stop handing out copies of the United States Constitution on campus, or else the Police would be called, and disciplinary action would taken against them.

The administrators confronted the students, who were affiliated with Students for Concealed Carry, and reprimanded them, due to the fact that they were handing out literature, in an area that was outside of the university’s designated “Free Speech Zone.”

Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a nonpartisan student organization that promotes students’ rights to carry concealed weapons on campus. One member of the group, Stephanie Keaveney, told Campus Reform that administrators alleged that the four representatives from SCC had caused an “immediate panic for the safety of students in the face of gun violence, or the promotion of such.

We encountered wild accusations that because the event was affiliated with SCC, there was legitimate fear for the imminent danger of students on campus,” Keaveney said.

The university’s family housing coordinator, Allyson Beck, was the first one to confront the students, who were handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution near an on-campus residence hall.

We have our free speech zone,” said Beck. “I understand that you may not like it, but that’s where it is.

The director of university housing, Tim Robitz, also approached the students. “I would very much like you to leave,” said Robitz. “If you would, please, because the students have the right to be able to come by here without you guys, you know, invading their space and asking them to do something.

Thank you for coming down here and explaining to us the unconstitutional policies here on campus, but we’re not going to move,” said one of the students from SCC.

Campus Reform reported that even though, as one student claimed, some of the administrators resorted to “personal attacks” and threatened disciplinary action, the students refused to leave, and the administrators eventually left them alone.

Although campus police claimed they had received a complaint from a student who said he felt “uncomfortable,” they did not ultimately confront the students. The members of SCC insisted that they had not heard any complaints.

Students on this campus were in no way framing themselves to be a legitimate threat to safety or inciting unlawful behavior,” said Keaveney. “This action was only related to SCC in that its members on this campus believe in order to fight for our second amendment rights; we must first be free to exercise our first amendment rights.”

Watch the full video here:


Student Sues College Over “Free Speech Zone”

 Glendora, CA – Citrus Community College is one of many universities in the nation that contains a “Free Speech Area.” This area is a designated space on campus; where students can set up booths, hand out pamphlets, and host speeches concerning the things they are passionate about.

While expressing one’s views may be encouraged inside a “Free Speech Area,” it is not welcomed in the same way in other areas around campus. Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle learned this lesson the hard way last year, when he started a petition against the National Security Agency’s spying program. According to Sinapi-Riddle, he was approached by an administrator, who warned him that he was outside of the designated zone and could be removed from campus.

It was shocking to me that there could be so much hostility about me talking to another student peacefully about government spying,” Sinapi-Riddle told the Los Angeles Times. “My vision of college was to express what I think.”

Sinapi-Riddle recently filed a lawsuit against the Citrus Community College District, with the intent to eliminate speech codes and any other policies that limit expression on campus. His lawsuit is sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that promotes free speech and due process rights at colleges and universities.

In addition to contesting the concept of the “Free Speech Area,” Sinapi-Riddle is also challenging the school’s anti-harassment policy, calling it “overly broad.” He added that although Citrus College eliminated all free speech zones after being sued in 2004, last year it “readopted in essence the unconstitutional policy it abandoned.

Sinapi-Riddle has the support of the First Amendment Center’s President, and Middle Tennessee State University’s Dean, Ken Paulson, who called the legal movement “right on the money and long overdue.”

Universities are scared of people who demand censorship – they’re afraid of lawsuits and PR problems,” said Robert Shibley, the Senior Vice President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Unfortunately, they are more worried about that than about ignoring their First Amendment responsibilities.”