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Court Vacates FHWA 90-Percent Threshold and Miscellaneous Products Exemptions Aspects of FHWA Secretary’s …

By recent order, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 2012 Memorandum regarding exceptions to the Buy America preferences for use of domestic steel and iron on federally funded highway programs. Among other things, the Memorandum exempted manufactured items that were at least 90 percent steel or iron, and other miscellaneous steel and iron products, from the Buy America requirements.

The Buy America preference requirement is grounded in several evolutions of the Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act. One aspect of the related acts was the preference for domestic unmanufactured and manufactured products purchased with monies funded in conjunction with those acts. Those preferences included domestic steel and iron products, both manufactured and unmanufactured.

However, the acts allowed the Secretary of the US Department of Transportation to exempt the Buy America preference when the Secretary deemed Buy America compliance would be inconsistent with the public interest. The 2012 Memorandum resulted from the Secretarys most recent exercise of that exemption authority, and was intended to clarify earlier exception determinations by the Secretary.

Using his exemption authority, in the 2012 Memorandum, the Secretary exempted from Buy America policy application two categories of products: 1) manufactured products made up of less than 90 percent steel or iron; and 2) miscellaneous or off-the-shelf steel or iron products. The case before the District Court involved challenge to those policy exemptions.

In short, the court agreed with the challenging plaintiffs and held the 2012 Memorandum violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because: a) the 90 percent threshold had not been subjected to required notice and comment rulemaking processes, and was itself arbitrary and capricious; and b) the miscellaneous products exceptions likewise were not subjected to required notice and comment rulemaking processes under the APA and also for Buy America waivers.

Thus far, the FWHA has not issued any additional clarification regarding Buy America implementation, nor has it initiated any related rulemaking processes. The overall impacts remain to be seen, but pending any overturning of the decision on appeal, or such rulemaking processes, all steel and iron for new federally funded highway projects must be reviewed for compliance with the Buy America requirements, and potential exemptions .

FWHA personnel have suggested that vacating the 2012 Memorandum is likely to significantly impact utility components. However, there will be other impacts as well.

New Pitzer College president is first African American to lead a Claremont …

Oliver, 65, will assume office July 1 at a time of national campus unrest over racial, ethnic and gender equity, including protests that forced out the dean of students at nearby Claremont McKenna College last year. Pitzer student activists have also asked for steps to increase campus diversity.

Oliver, who has tackled racial and economic inequality with both research and practical initiatives during three decades at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, along with a stint at the Ford Foundation, said he would seek to address those concerns as one of his top priorities.

The Number Of College Students Seeking Mental Health Treatment Is Growing Rapidly

An increasing number of college students are seeking help for mental health issues, at a rate outpacing the growth in enrollment by five-fold, a new report shows.

Data collected at 139 college and university counseling centers, from 2009-2010 through 2014-2015, reflectsslow but consistent growth in students reporting depression, anxiety and social anxiety. And 20 percent of students seeking mental health treatment, the report found, are taking up about half of all campus counseling center appointments.

The 2015 annual report that was released earlier this week from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University is based on data that focused on 100,736 college students nationwide seeking mental health treatment.

CCMHs report reflects several years of students speaking out about problems on campus dealing with mental health, and a growing conversation about burnout in college.

One-in-8 student clients said sleep was a problem for them, a rate that is 30 percent higher than those needing help for alcohol, and almost three times the rate of students who needed help from counseling centers to overcome drug abuse.

Campus counseling center leadershave said for years that they perceive there to be an increase in demand for their services. As New York magazine noted last year, surveys of college providers show counselors seem to always think things are getting worse. And this set of data confirms their suspicions, at least over the past five years.The data also explains why students have routinely complained about long wait times to get appointments at counseling centers, said Ben Locke, executive director of CCMH.

The campus centers are continually understaffed because their budgets are often based on some kind of historical calculation of the number of students enrolled and previous rates of students requesting appointments, Locke said.

This is the reason we hear those stories that I called my counseling center to get help and they said itll be a three or four week wait, Locke said.

The report still leaves the question unanswered of why more students need help.CCMH concluded thatrates of prior treatment are not changing and therefore unlikely to be the cause of the increased demand for services.

The jury is still out on whether it reflects a sicker student body,saidDr. Victor Schwartz, medical director of the Jed Foundation, a group that works with colleges to prevent suicide, or are we making headway in getting people to come in sooner, which would be good news.

Another possibility Schwartz floated, is that there are more resources available for mental health services on campus, compared to off campus.

The report and Locke also point to the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004, which isdesigned to award millions of dollars in grants to prevent suicide among young people.

The percentage of students using counseling services seeking help for harassment or sexual assault, drug and alcohol use, or existing mental health disorders has remained constant. One issue in particular, however, stood out: Theres been a steady increase in students reporting self injuries, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

Locke suggested that as college becomes more accessible, bringing in lower income students who may never have had mental health services available, this could account for a slight increase of students going to counseling centers. He said, however, that demographic changes alone dont explain the trend.

In recent years, pundits have pointed to anecdotesof students asking to use trigger warnings in classes, and complaining about microagressions as examples that undergraduates today are less resilient and too coddled.

But Locke outright dismissed that as an explanation for the reports findings of a significant increase in the number of students seeking out counseling services.

You dont see a 38 percent relative increase because of a sudden disappearance of resilience at the national level, Locke said.

To criticize students for seeking out help for their mental health concerns, he added, would be blaming the victim.

We need to avoid judging students as lacking a characteristic, Locke said.

Read the annual report on student counseling centers:

Obama: We have to make college affordable

In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touched on the student debt crisis and emphasized the problem with college affordability.

We have to make college affordable for every American, because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red, the president said Tuesday night.

Weve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and Im going to keep fighting to get that started this year, he added.

Its not the first time the president has addressed student debt in his State of the Union addresses. In past speeches, he has called on Congress to stop student loan interest-rate increases, extend the tuition tax credit and boost the number of work-study jobs as well as asking colleges and universities to keep tuition costs down.

We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job, he said Tuesday.

His comments, which were met with applause, came on the eve of an election year and at a time when student debt burdens have reached record levels.

When we talk about education, were blinded by what it was in the past — everyone thinks they are going to get out of school, get a job and everything works out, said Andrew Josuweit, CEO and president of Student Loan Hero, a student-loan management site.

But today, 79 percent of respondents in a Gallup-Lumina poll released earlier this year do not think that higher education is affordable for everyone who needs it.

At public four-year schools, costs for the 2015-16 school year rose to $19,548 from the $16,178 price tag five years ago,according to the College Board. Tuition plus room and board at four-year private universities was much, much higher: $43,921 on average.

Meanwhile, many new graduates are finding that they must do internships or other apprentice-type work before they land a full-time job, noted Rohit Chopra, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

In turn, student debt has reached record proportions with $1.3 trillion in student loans outstanding. Forty-three million people in the United States owe some amount of student-loan debt, according to the center.

Wednesday’s college roundup: UMaine men, women top UMass-Lowell

Maine led 31-16 at halftime after a 24-5 run in the second, and then put the River Hawks (3-12, 0-3) away with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter.

USM 56, RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE 46: Gretchen Anderson scored 16 points to lead the University of Southern Maine (8-6, 3-1 Little East) over Rhode Island College (3-9, 1-3) at Providence, Rhode Island.

The Huskies grabbed a 10-point lead in the first half. Ella Ramonas scored seven of Southern Maines 17 points in the second quarter to establish the lead. She was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line during the stretch and finished with 10 points. Megan Pelletier helped the Huskies with 12 points.

SMCC 88, GREAT BAY CC 18: Alicia Hoyt scored 13 points and Jordan Turner added 12 for the Seawolves (15-4, 6-3 Yankee Small College) as they cruised past the Herons (6-6, 4-4) at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Abigail Nielsen chipped in 10 points for Southern Maine CC, which led 47-9 at halftime.

(1) CONNECTICUT 86, MEMPHIS 46: Moriah Jefferson matched her season high with 21 points, Breanna Stewart had 11 points and eight rebounds and UConn (15-0, 5-0 American Athletic) won at Memphis (9-8, 3-3).

The Huskies led by double-digits about 7 minutes in and never trailed.

(4) TEXAS 75, KANSAS 38: Imani Boyette scored 15 points, Empress Davenport had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Texas (16-0, 5-0 Big 12) won in a rout at Kansas (5-11, 0-5).

Celina Rodrigo had seven assists and Brianna Taylor had five steals for the Longhorns. Texas is 5-0 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2002-03.

MENS BASKETBALL

MAINE 95, UMASS-LOWELL 81: Freshman Devine Eke scored 25 points and Maines up-tempo offense hit 13 3-pointers in a victory at Lowell, Massachusetts.

Maine closed the first half on a 7-0 run, capped by Shaun Lawtons deep 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer, to take a 48-38 lead. Eke made 6 of 8 shots for 14 points in only seven minutes of play.

Mark Cornelius up-and-under layup highlighted UMass-Lowells 15-5 spurt to pull to 58-56. But Maine pushed its lead back to 10 after making three 3-pointers in four possessions, including Ryan Bernsteins bank.

Lawton made four 3-pointers and finished with 17 points for Maine (5-11, 1-2 America East).

Jahad Thomas led UMass- Lowell (5-11, 1-2) with 19 points.

BENTLEY 81, ADELPHI 61: South Portlands Keegan Hyland scored his 1,000th career point while leading the Falcons (11-3, 8-1) to a Northeast-10 Conference win over the Panthers (14-3, 7-3) at Waltham, Massachusetts.

Hyland, a graduate student at Bentley, finished with 26 points on Wednesday and has 1,011 in 61 career games over three seasons with the Falcons.

ST. JOSEPHS 68, RIVIER 55: Quinn Richardson-Newton scored 22 points, and the Monks (5-9, 2-5 GNAC) defeated Rivier (2-12, 2-5) at Standish.

Richardson-Newton scored 15 in the second half, including 7 of 8 from the line. Ben Malloy added 11 points for the Monks and Marc Corey grabbed 11 rebounds.

USM 60, RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE 58: Jose Nouchanthavong made a pair of free throws after getting fouled on a drive with two seconds left to lift the Huskies (8-6, 2-2 LEC) over the Anchormen (2-12, 1-3) at Providence, Rhode Island.

Atencio Martin recorded his fourth double-double of the season for the Huskies with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Nouchanthavong and Zach Leal finished with 11 points apiece for the Huskies, and Omar Haji-Hersi added seven points and five rebounds off the bench.

SMCC 101, GREAT BAY CC 60: Jack Tolan scored 18 points to lead a balanced attack for the Seawolves (8-12, 5-4 YSCC) in a win over the Herons (3-12, 1-6) at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

John Morgan added 13 points for SMCC, which went on a 12-0 run midway through the first half to extend its lead to 20 points.

CLEMSON 68, (9) DUKE 63: Jaron Blossomgame scored 17 points, including the clinching dunk with 13.5 seconds left, to lift Clemson (11-6, 4-1 Atlantic Coast) to an upset of Duke (14-3, 3-1) at Greenville, South Carolina.

Coupled with Sundays win over then No. 16 Louisville, its the first time the Tigers have beaten consecutive ranked opponents since closing the 1989 season with victories over Duke and Georgia Tech.

This one started like a typical Blue Devils blowout, with Duke taking a 28-16 lead midway through the opening half. Instead the Tigers hung tough to beat Duke for the second time in three seasons.

Grayson Allen led Duke with 17 points.

(6) VILLANOVA 83, MARQUETTE 68: Kris Jenkins scored 20 points and Jalen Brunson had 14 to lead host Villanova (15-2, 5-0 Big East) over Marquette (12-5, 2-3).

The Wildcats blew a 16-point lead and trailed early in the second half until they took control late in the game to win for a 36th straight time at the Pavilion.

(10) SMU 79, EAST CAROLINA 55: Ben Moore scored 17 points and SMU remained unbeaten by routing East Carolina at Greenville, North Carolina.

Markus Kennedy had 11 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Tolbert finished with 15 points and Nic Moore had a career-high 12 assists for the Mustangs (16-0, 5-0 American Athletic Conference), who had five double-figure scorers for the fourth time this season.

College Notes: New courses highlight Peralta Colleges spring session

Believe it or not, the spring semester is upon us. It feels like winter — thank goodness for the rain — but at our local community colleges — Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney and Merritt College — eyes are on the many new spring classes beginning Jan. 25.

Over at College of Alameda, the anthropology department offers some of the most fascinating and inspiring classes in the field you can find anywhere. Under the leadership of Dr. Nathan Strong, who has been featured in Whos Who Among Americas Teachers, an honor bestowed on only 5 percent of the nations educators each year, the department offers physical anthropology, cultural anthropology and more. Not only are these classes a whole lot of fun, they are transferable to four-year universities nationwide. To find out more, visit http://alameda.peralta.edu/anthropology/.

At ever-growing Berkeley City College, global studies is a favorite among those in the know. Led by faculty member Joan Berezin, BCCs Global Studies Program challenges students to examine history and the current process of globalization and socioeconomic stratification. There is a degree program and a range of electives that give students a deeper understanding of how geopolitical areas of the globe impact one another. The degree program includes courses such as critical thinking, history of the United States, global perspectives and current world problems. One of Berezins students, Tenzin Seldon, transferred to Stanford, became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and now works for the United Nations. Future diplomats can find out more by visiting

Here’s How to Solve the Student Debt Crisis: Make College Free

Sometime in 2008, I got a phone call informing me I had defaulted on my student loans. I had thought I was in a deferment period, but I had moved several times, and I wasn’t receiving the letters in the mail telling me my payments were past due. Seriously past due. As a consequence of the default, 19 percent was added to my principal. A debt that had once seemed merely enormous now appeared astronomical. I felt guilty: This was the punishment I deserved for having done wrong, for having failed to live up to my obligations.

Today, the average indebted new college graduate owes almost $35,000, compared to $23,000 back in 2008. They may be more indebted, but I hope they feel less isolated. After all, the upside of skyrocketing student debt is that Americans are finally admitting that this is a crisis–one that impacts millions.

President Obama acknowledged as much last night, during his final State of the Union address. “We have to make college affordable for every American,” he said. “No hardworking student should be stuck in the red.” He said that his administration had reduced student loan payments through income-based repayment programs, but also that the cost of college simply needs to be cut. He reiterated his commitment to making two years of community college free. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Back when I defaulted, these weren’t issues commonly addressed by politicians or discussed in the news. As a result, I had no idea just how badly the decks are stacked against student debtors. I didn’t know, for example, that the 19 percent added to my balance reflected so-called “collection costs and fees” arbitrarily determined by the lender. I had no clue that, in some states, defaulters can lose their professional certifications and driver’s licenses–professional certifications they probably went into debt to get, and driver’s licenses they need to get to work so they can pay back their loans. Nor did I know that, unlike most other kinds of debt, student loans were not dischargeable in bankruptcy; you can get out from under your credit card bills, but student loans will follow you to the grave. More fundamentally, I didn’t know anything about the way higher education is financed in this country, that tuition has come to replace state subsidies, and that the price of a year of college has increased by more than 1,200 percent over the past three decades.

Too often, even now, college graduates are told it’s their fault if they have a hard time making monthly loan payments: They studied the wrong subjects or chose the wrong school. And sure, I was a stereotypical white middle-class student who pursued an impractical degree. (Perhaps I should have studied compound interest along with critical theory.) But the reality is that student debt is not a problem only for the privileged. The poorest people end up paying and owing the most under the current system, and student debt disproportionately weighs down people of color. Over half of young black households have student debt, compared to 39 percent of their white counterparts.

Given how serious the problem is, it’s about time it got national attention. Not only is Obama talking about student debt, the Democrats are trying to make it a campaign issue–something that distinguishes them from the Republicans and can lure young voters to their side. Hillary Clinton promises to stem rising education costs and reduce interest rates on new and existing student loans. Bernie Sanders’s platform–which, I confess, I much prefer–is more direct. It calls for all public colleges and universities to be tuition-free, which is how many other industrialized democracies, such as Slovenia and Denmark, already do things. What do the Republicans propose? Marco Rubio has suggested letting investors foot individuals’ college bills in return for a share of their future income. And Donald Trump, of course, founded a for-profit college named after himself.

Most of these politicians likely wouldn’t even be talking about student debt if activists hadn’t spent years fighting to raise public awareness on the issue. In 2012, a small group with roots in Occupy Wall Street organized what they called 1T Day, to call attention to the moment student debt surpassed $1 trillion nationally. That number has since ballooned to $1.3 trillion and is expected to increase to a mind-boggling $2 trillion around 2022.

Raising awareness, though, is not enough. Debtors need to push elected officials to actually act, and they need to get creative about it. Last year, working with some of the folks who planned 1T Day, I helped organize the first-ever student debt strike in the US Fifteen people who had been defrauded by a predatory for-profit college chain banded together to refuse to pay their student loans. Soon, their ranks swelled to more than 200, and they were supported by thousands of others who participated in the campaign in other ways. Under pressure from the strike, the Department of Education promised in June to provide relief to defrauded students, though it has delayed the process and set up unnecessary obstacles to relief. (If the Obama administration is serious about addressing the issue this year, forgiving the loans of people scammed by for-profit schools on the Education Department’s watch would be a good place to start, and it has the legal authority to do so.)

When I defaulted in 2008, I felt ashamed. Today, I think debtors should feel outraged. It is perverse to force students into a lifetime of debt just to get the schooling they are endlessly told is necessary. So here’s my education proposal: How about full-scale student-debt cancellation, and the option of public, tuition-free higher education for everyone who wants to attend college?

Education would then be free–free as in free of cost, but also free as in enhancing freedom. We would no longer need to judge the value of a degree by whether or not a person can pay off the debt he or she went into to get it; knowledge could be liberated from the pressure of earning a return on investment. There are many sound economic arguments for reducing student debt and reversing the college-cost spiral in which we are currently stuck. (For example, according to experts at the New York Federal Reserve, student debt is holding back the economy, since young people are paying back their loans instead of buying homes or starting families.)

But the most compelling reason I can find to change course is this: If college didn’t cost a fortune, everyone, not just the privileged, could afford to learn for learning’s sake.

Astra Taylor is a documentary filmmaker and the author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow and an EHRP Puffin fellow at The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, which supported this piece.

Full time beats part time in study of community-college success

In one of the first comprehensive looks at community-college-graduation rates for students from South King County, one fact stood out: Full-time students graduated at a much higher rate than part-time ones.

That’s perhaps not surprising, but the importance of attending full time was a revelation for Mary Jean Ryan, who directs the group that wrote the study, Community Center for Education Results (CCER).