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Shooting Hoax at Ramapo College

Man Faked Shooting Attack in Effort to Get Ex-Girlfriend to Pay Up

March 25, 2011

Shooting Hoax at Ramapo College

by Suada Kolovic

We’ve all gone through breakups before, but what do you do if an ex owes you $1,000? The average Joe would probably take their case to small claims court but for one West Orange, N.J. man, that course of action just didn’t have enough pizzazz for him. Instead, he pretended he had been shot and was being held for ransom in hopes that his former flame would come to his rescue...without ever contacting the authorities. Yup, that’s definitely the wrong way to get an ex to pay up.

Twenty-three-year-old Gil D. Jaffe was arrested after he allegedly claimed he was shot at or near Ramapo College in efforts to elicit $1,000 from his ex-girlfriend, authorities said. Jaffe and Leonid Shtaygrad, 21, are accused of running the hoax. According to police, a call was placed to Jaffe’s ex-girlfriend, a 22-year-old former Ramapo student, Wednesday night saying he was shot twice in the shoulder because he owed the shooter money. Shtaygrad, posing as the shooter, then allegedly got on the phone confirming the story and told Jaffe’s ex to send ransom money. The woman called police, prompting a campus lockdown, and Mahwah officers were eventually able to identify Jaffe’s location by tracking his cell phone in West Orange. When police arrived, they found Jaffe had no gunshot wounds then arrested him for violating a restraining order by contacting his ex.

In court Thursday, Jaffe was charged with violating a restraining order, false public alarm and attempted theft by deception. His accomplice, Shtaygrad, was charged with creating false public alarm and conspiracy to attempted theft by deception. Money allegedly owed to you by your ex: $1,000. Bail: $25,000. Proving on a national level that you aren’t boyfriend material: Priceless.


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Your Scholarship of the Week Challenge? Earn $15,000 for College!

HISTORY® and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Announce National Civil War Student Challenge

March 28, 2011

Your Scholarship of the Week Challenge? Earn $15,000 for College!

by Alexis Mattera

Want to put a serious dent in your tuition? You’ll need three things: a working knowledge of the Civil War, a Scholarships.com account and the link directing you to the National Civil War Student Challenge.

The National Civil War Student Challenge is an academic competition presented by HISTORY® and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that gives students a chance to showcase their knowledge of one of the most pivotal events in American history and qualify to win up to $15,000 in college scholarships. Although all U.S. high school students who are in grades 9 through 12 and are between the ages of 13 and 19 are eligible to participate, content is geared toward the 11th grade curriculum. The top-30 scoring students will be invited to take a 90-minute, proctored in-school Final Exam to determine the top 10 scholarship winners.

Registration is now open on the official website so sign up and start studying. And remember, there are plenty more scholarship opportunities in the Scholarships.com database...check out our free college scholarship search today!


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GOP Congressman: Pell Grants are Becoming ‘The Welfare of the 21st Century’

by Suada Kolovic

The GOP is no stranger to controversy and Friday’s interview with Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) was no exception. In a radio interview with Blog Talk Radio, Rehberg went on a rant in which he compared the Pell Grant Program – the nation’s largest financial aid program – to the likes of welfare and denounced the fact that students who receive them don’t have a graduation requirement. "You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.” Rehberg added under the federal program, a student could "go to school for nine years on Pell Grants and you don’t even have to get a degree."

Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project at the New America Foundation, took issue with Rehberg's comments. "I don't know if it's a fair characterization that someone has decided to go through the hoops of applying to college, getting enrolled and showing up every day because it's the welfare lifestyle," he said. "If the issue is people are being lazy and living off the dole, so to speak, I don't think their first step is to enroll in college."

For the 2012 fiscal year, the Pell Grant program is set to exceed $40 billion. Some lawmakers have been exploring ways to reduce the cost of the programs by lowering the maximum grant size – which is currently $5,550 – or restricting eligibility. In Montana, Rehberg recently voted for the House GOP budget resolution, which would reduce the maximum Pell Grant to $4,705 and narrow the eligibility of applicants. If you’re eligible for Pell Grants, what do you think? Are Rehberg’s assumptions out of line?


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Professor Arrested for Battery After Closing Student's Laptop Screen

by Suada Kolovic

Laptops are as ubiquitous in lecture halls as pulling all-nighters are during midterms and finals. But students should think twice before surfing the web in class: They might walk away with a bruised ego…as well as a few bruised fingers.

According to the Valdosta State University Spectator, assistant professor of mass media Frank Rybicki was arrested for assault after he shut a student’s laptop screen during class. Why? She was allegedly web surfing as opposed to taking notes. Students told the Spectator that the incident took place following an argument between Rybicki and the student, Krista Bowman, on March 25, during a Law & Ethics of Media lecture. Bowman filed a complaint – claiming she has sustained injuries to her finger or fingers following the incident – and university police arrested Rybicki on a charge of battery. He has since been released on a $2,500 bond and university representative Thressea Boyd released a statement saying the charges are under investigation.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Rybicki confirmed his arrest and suspensions, but insists he had never physically harmed a student. Do you think the professor was out of line when he shut Bowman’s laptop, possibly harming her? What should professors do to combat the problem of students blogging, tweeting and Facebooking instead of paying attention to class? Is it really their responsibility to monitor students that closely?


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What Ever Happened to No Takesy Backsies?

Possible Pell Cuts Could Mean Revised Financial Aid Offers

April 6, 2011

What Ever Happened to No Takesy Backsies?

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior and have received your financial aid package from your dream school, listen up: Congress may cut the Pell Grant program’s budget this year and colleges may have to roll back a portion of the financial-aid offers they made to students for the coming academic year. Translation: You may receive a smaller financial-aid package than was originally offered.

According to the Chronicle, both parties acknowledge that some type of restructuring will be necessary to put the program on sound financial footing, but lawmakers disagree on the size and scope of the cuts. Some proposals suggest lowering the maximum award, ending the year-round program and changing the income requirements in order to reduce the number of people eligible for the grants.

At a news conference held by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a college administrator and student advocates agree that cuts in award levels this late in the admissions process would be particularly hurtful to the low-income families the program serves. "Families with the most unsteady income, or who don't have much financial flexibility ... need the most time to thoroughly plan out their expenses," said Misty Whelan, a Pennsylvania high school counselor. With most decision deadlines around the corner – May 1 at many colleges – how do you feel knowing these cuts could potentially dictate where you go? Do you think it’s fair for colleges to backtrack on their offers? What ever happened to no takesy backsies?


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Campus Safety, Are Guns the Answer?

7 States Considering Legislation to Allow Guns on College Campuses

April 7, 2011

Campus Safety, Are Guns the Answer?

by Suada Kolovic

What comes to mind when you think of guns on college campuses? If you’re like me, you think of the senseless tragedies at Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Pima Community College in Arizona and, most recently, Southern Union Community College in Alabama, where students lost their lives at the end of a loaded gun. And yet, despite those events, seven states across the country are considering loosening or changing laws when it comes to firearms on campus:

  • Arizona

    A bill that passed in the state Senate on March 14 would allow students, faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.
  • Nebraska

    A bill proposed by Nebraska Sen. Mark Christensen would allow professors at public universities to have guns on campus.
  • Nevada

    Nevada legislators are considering a bill that would bar colleges from banning firearms on campus. Amanda Collins, a University of Nevada student who was sexually assaulted on campus in 2007 and testified in favor of passing the bill.
  • New Mexico

    New Mexico officials are considering a law which would allow those with a concealed carry gun license to have guns on public college campuses.
  • Oklahoma

    A bill which would allow those licensed to carry concealed weapons to do so on campus has passed the state Senate, and is now under consideration by the Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee.
  • Tennessee

    Tennessee legislators are considering a bill which would allow professors to have handguns on campus.
  • Texas

    A bill allowing students to carry guns on the campuses of state universities is predicted to be voted into law, to the dismay of a number of Texan students.

According to Armedcampuses.org, an anti-gun site which lists postsecondary institutions that allow firearms on campus, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) said, “There is...a real concern that campus police officers responding to a situation involving an active shooter may not be able to distinguish between the shooter and others with firearms” at colleges that allow guns on their premises. We’ve witnessed the tragic outcomes guns can have on campus, so how do you feel about gun rights activists pushing for legislation in the other direction? And when it comes to students’ safety on campus, do you think guns are the answer?


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Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

Colleges with the Highest Return on Your Investment

April 8, 2011

Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

by Suada Kolovic

With all this talk about possible Pell Grant cuts, acceptance rates plummeting and universities facing serious tuition hikes – Arizona universities could face hikes of up to 22% – which schools are worth the outrageous sticker price of about $200,000? According to PayScale.com’s annual survey of colleges with the highest return on investment rates, the California Institute of Technology tops the list with a 12.2% annual return. PayScale’s data is pulled from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelors degrees in the last 20 years, for more on their methodology click here. Check out who made the cut below:


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Emerson Student Dies in Fall from Building

by Suada Kolovic

The Boston Globe reported that Justin Amorratanasuchad, a 21-year-old film student at Emerson College, fell to his death while working on a school project on an apartment building’s rooftop. The college’s president, Jackie Liebergott, sent an email to students and faculty telling them that Amorratanasuchad died from injuries he sustained in Sunday morning’s fall from the four-story structure. According to a statement from the Boston Police Department, he was pronounced dead at the scene from what appeared to be an accidental fall.

How could something like this happen? Kevin Spates, a resident who lives in the building says access to the roof is supposed to be restricted but admitted that the lock had been taped over so that the door remained open. He added that the side Amorratanasuchad fell from has no railings. The owners could not be reached for comment.

Amorratanasuchad was a junior film production major from Seattle that worked as a student employee at the college’s editing lab. Liebergott said Emerson’s Counseling Center will host a gathering at the Campus Center Monday for those wish to talk about Amorratanasuchad’s death.


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Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Guns on Campus

by Suada Kolovic

The Arizona Republic reports Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill that would permit guns to be carried on “public rights of way” at public universities and college campuses. The bill, which would have applied to both concealed and openly carried weapons, originally required that weapons be permitted inside campus buildings, but it was eventually scaled back through the legislative process in the Senate.

Brewer, typically a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and gun rights, called the bill “poorly written” and said it lacked clarity. In her veto letter, she also questioned the use of “educational institution,” which she argued could be interpreted as applying to K-12 schools and would conflict with existing state and federal laws that do not permit weapons on those school grounds. "Bills impacting our Second Amendment rights have to be crystal clear so that gun owners don't become lawbreakers by accident," Brewer said.

With all the talk about allowing guns on campus and our constitutional right to bear arms, what do you think of Governor Brewer’s decision?


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UCs Out-of-State Solution

UCs Accept Highest-Ever Rate of Non-Residents

April 20, 2011

UCs Out-of-State Solution

by Suada Kolovic

With California universities facing massive budget cuts in the upcoming year, the state has turned to a creative way to fill the void: According to data released by the University of California, out-of-state and international student admissions are at an all-time high and these students are paying pay about $23,000 more a year than their in-state counterparts.

The LA Times reports that applicants from other states or countries made up 18.1% of the 72,432 students admitted to at least one of the nine undergraduate UC campuses, up from 14% last year. At UC Berkley and UCLA – two of the most selective colleges in the UC System – the trend of accepting out-of-state and international students was most dramatic at 31.2% and 29.9% respectively. Why? The UC system is dealing with a crippling decline of investments from the state of California. Bloomberg reports that the state's current UC funding is back at 1998 levels, despite an additional university campus and 70,000 more students.

So where does this leave Californians who were looking forward to the affordability and convenience of a state school? With a slim chance that there’s a fat envelope headed their way. The fact is that higher acceptance rates for non-Californians means that more state residents were denied admissions at their first- and second- choice state campuses. Do you think it’s reasonable for schools in such serious financial strains to accept students based on their home addresses?


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