Category Archives: Editorial

College costs

$56,340. That is the comprehensive tuition fee for Elizabethtown College for the 2017-2018 academic year. Tuition will be about $2,000 more than it was this year, and $4,000 more than the 2015-2016 academic year. Tuition increases happen naturally across every college throughout the U.S. and there are not any practical means for generally avoiding the increase, but the way the increases are being implemented at Etown is particularly frustrating to students and families.

To many students, they may see the $2,000 increase per year as negligible. Even though math is far from one of my favorite leisurely hobbies, it is important to calculate the totals to fully understand the significance of the numbers. Currents sophomores came in as first year students paying about $52,000. This year, they are paying about $54,000, and their junior year they will be paying about $56,000. Presumably, the $2,000 increase will continue, making their senior year’s comprehensive fee about $58,000. That is $6,000 more in tuition than the original financial aid package suggested to incoming students. When I was making my college decision, money was a major factor, along with getting a quality education. I compared schools based on the financial aid packages they offered me. When I came in as a first-year student at Etown, I was expecting my grand total after four years to be about $208,000 which is shocking in itself. Now, according to the projected increases, the grand total comes to about $220,000. That is $12,000 more than I expected to pay.

Needless to say, I was unsettled by this news, but I tried to remain optimistic, hoping I would gain some scholarship money from somewhere to help offset the costs. My mom, a single parent doing everything she possibly can to help me pay for my education, immediately began suggesting that I transfer to a more affordable school with a similar academic program. Then the college announced another major change. They would be launching a $50 million campaign to improve the college, and a large portion of the money would be spent on building a “Sports, Fitness, and Wellness Center.” This news in itself would not be so disappointing. The funds for the center are being raised privately, so the tuition increase is not being put toward its construction. Of course everyone would love some more recreation space, but announcing it in combination with the tuition increase did not sit well with me. I was not inspired counter to what the campaign suggested. The money they are spending could be better spent. The campaign promotions themselves included inspiring stories about our students and faculty, encouraging donors to contribute money to the good works that the members of our campus community complete. The center does not exactly correspond to this message of academia and service.

As if these two pieces of news were not disheartening enough, Etown gave its students a third piece of major news in an email just one day after announcing the launch of the campaign. Students received an email from the Financial Aid Office describing a change in their merit-based scholarship policy. Originally, the requirement was for students to maintain a 2.75 GPA to keep a merit-based scholarship. This standard plummeted to a requirement of just a 2.0 GPA.

“A 2.75 was a B average while 2.0 is a D average and students received these merit scholarships for being a strong academic,” sophomore Alison Parsons said. “If they cannot stay a strong academic they shouldn’t receive it.”

For a college seemingly struggling with finances and launching an expensive campaign, it is absolutely absurd for them to be throwing out money to students who should not have even been accepted to the college let alone given a huge merit-based scholarship. If they can indeed afford to handout this money to undeserving students, then they should be able to help balance the increases in our financial aid packages. The college should use the merit scholarships as incentives to do well academically.

The decisions of the college were not individually inherently bad, but the timing and the manner in which they were announced were extremely disheartening to students. Etown should have planned ahead and spaced out these major policy changes, so that students and families would have more time to process the decisions. The scholarship GPA requirement decrease is sending a message that Etown is lowering its high standards of achievement. Etown should be more selective with the students they admit to the college, so that we maintain our high academic standards. Our motto is “Educate for Service,” but Etown is doing a disservice to its high achieving students.

Limited access to healthcare puts students’ health at risk

Healthcare

Photo source: National Economic and Social Rights Initiative

With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) still in its infant stages, the issues surrounding healthcare have come to the mainstage of discussion across the country. While many people are discussing the impact of the ACA on the elderly, the poor and the American middle class, college students are a rarely discussed demographic in regards to this issue.

Although the ACA requires insurance companies to allow a person to stay on their parents insurance until turning 26, for low-income students who don’t have insurance this isn’t applicable, leaving them with no insurance and little money to pay for their own expensive plan. Elizabethtown College is a college which has created programs to welcome lower income students to the school, though they do not offer free or low-cost, comprehensive healthcare options to low-income students.

First-year Kyle Praseut is one Etown student who feels the school has failed to live up to their promises by not helping low-income students with healthcare. Neither of his parents have insurance, leaving him completely devoid of affordable access to healthcare.

“I find that even with the school’s willingness to give out scholarships to those in need that those in true dire need do not have access to the resources people need to survive – like healthcare,” Praseut said.

In addition to students, like Praseut, who don’t have insurance, there is an abundance of students who may have insurance through their parents’ employer, but these insurance plans require the use of a network doctor. This policy often requires the student to return home to go to the clinic or hospital in order to have any of the bill covered by insurance. These students are apt to avoid going to the doctor until they are able to go home or avoid the doctor’s office all together.

Through the ACA, colleges are now required to offer a healthcare plan and make it available to their students. The College has complied with this, and starting fall 2016 has begun offering the option of student health insurance at the cost of around $1500 per school year for each student. While these rates are potentially lower than a student may have to pay on their own in a private insurance policy, this amount of money is still out of reach for some students.

“I don’t have the campus insurance because it’s too expensive. An extra $1500 on top of the tuition I already barely afford just isn’t reasonable,” first-year Savannah Martinez said.

Many low-income students that attend Etown are recipients of merit and need based financial aid. Unfortunately, the College does not have a policy in place which allows the use of these funds towards insurance, which may squash any possibilities some students may have of affording the plan.

Some colleges across the nation offer free medical access to their students through full- or part-time nurses, physicians and other medical staff. At Etown, students do have free access to some health resources through the WELL and through a nurse via the local Penn State Hershey Medical Center, but she is not able to write prescriptions, treat most injuries or do a long list of other procedures students may find necessary.

There seems to be a common belief that Etown would be incapable of sustaining such a presence because large public schools are most of the colleges with recognizably free medical programs for students. However, some private schools, such as Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island, do offer free medical services to their students.

At Johnson and Wales, students have access to a registered nurse daily with minor injuries and illness but are also able to schedule appointments with a physician who is available two days a week. Students are not charged to see either a nurse or physician.

Although there are potential benefits to students in creating a more comprehensive medical program for students to access, the costs may be higher than the school is willing to pay. In addition, some people belief that while it may be acceptable – and even expected – for public universities to provide free medical care, private schools do not – and should not – have the same expectation or responsibilities.

“The general welfare is up to the state and national government, not a private institution,” sophomore John Koons said.

Exposing the “Perfect” Rape Story

By failing to make the effort to check the most critical facts of its striking story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house, Rolling Stone has done rape victims, especially those on college campuses, a great disservice. In 2014, reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely set out to write the “perfect rape story,” one that would shock the nation into finally taking the necessary action to help sexual assault victims. After traveling the nation and talking to different rape and sexual assault victims, Erdely found the perfect victim for her story in Jackie, a UVA junior, who was allegedly ambushed and raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a date party in 2012. With its shockingly gruesome details and heart-wrenchingly realistic portrayal of gang rape, Erdely’s supposed exposé, entitled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” quickly sparked a national discussion about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses.

At first, it seemed like Erdely had succeeded in drawing national attention to rape culture. However in light of follow-up investigations into the rape allegations, it became increasingly clear that the very basic, standard steps to corroborate the details of the claims had never been taken. Erdely never reached out to the individuals accused of perpetrating the attack, but instead relied on the entire account of the story to come from one source: the victim of the attack, Jackie. Not only is this an entirely unethical way to go about reporting a story, but checking into the details of the story wouldn’t have even been a lengthy process. The Washington Post managed to investigate and disprove many of the details of the accounts in a manner of days. On Dec. 5, 2014, Rolling Stone finally published an online apology stating there appeared to be “discrepancies” in the accounts of Erdely’s sources and that their trust in the accuser had been misplaced.

On Nov. 6, Dr. Kyle Kopko’s Gender and the Law class hosted Dean Smolla of Widener University, a litigator in one of the three UVA rape case trials, just days after a federal court jury decided that Erdely and Rolling Stone were both responsible for defamation with actual malice of Nicole Eramo, the UVA administrator in charge of handling sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. In regards to his opinion on the outcome of the trial, Smolla showed little to no pity for Erdely or Rolling Stone.

“If you know the story’s not true or you suspect the story is not true and you turn a blind eye to that, it is deliberately avoiding the truth,” Smolla said.

Students on Elizabethtown College’s campus have mixed feelings on how they feel that this case of false reporting will affect the validity of future reporting on sexual assault cases.

“This has happened in the past before- false reporting,” first-year Tanner Simon stated. “I don’t think that students will react any differently because I feel like this instance isn’t widely known throughout campuses.”

Other students fear that now when journalists report on the stories of victims, the public will be less likely to take the stories seriously.

“I think it will perpetuate the misconceptions surrounding rape cases, especially those that are reported on college campuses,” first-year Savannah Martinez said.

By neglecting to verify that the details of their story were true, Erdely and Rolling Stone have made life much harder for the victims of assault that a story like this was supposed to help.

To learn more about the Rolling Stone article and the ensuing lawsuits, check out ABC’s 20/20 episode, What Happened to Jackie?

Q: What is the Thanksgiving tradition you are most looking forward to this year? “My favorite tradition that my family does is that I always get up with my brother and we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV.”
Q: What is the Thanksgiving tradition you are most looking forward to this year?
“My favorite tradition that my family does is that I always get up with my brother and we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV.”

Picture by: Aileen Ida

Joys of Thanksgiving

Story by Darian Natividad and Colby Smith.

Leaves are brown, trees are shedding and it is getting cold outside. So you know Thanksgiving is on its way. This holiday is one-of-a-kind because the mentality is different from all the other holidays celebrated. It is about giving thanks for what you have and enjoying company from both family and friends. My favorite part about Thanksgiving is seeing all the relatives I usually do not see during the year.

Everyone brings a different dish, such as mashed potatoes, turkey, pumpkin pie and grandma’s stuffing. It is one thing to a regular-sized meal, but another to have more than enough. It becomes a challenge to eat as much as possible but there will still be some food leftover. This is a big part of Thanksgiving. Personally, after this meal, you can find me on the couch in a food coma, interacting with relatives I normally don’t spend time with. I am very grateful to be able to do every year. This is the most essential part of a Thanksgiving dinner.

One thing I am not looking forward to, however, is bringing everyone together with clashing political view. I have a feeling politics could be a big theme across the dinner tables in America this year. My table is always filled with strong opinions. I am hoping for the best and I certainly will not be the one to bring up any political talk, but I know someone inevitably will go in that direction. I am hoping everyone will be respectful of different views and we can end on a happy note.

Click here to see what topics you may want to discuss with your family.

Even though Thanksgiving may bring out the craziness in our families, it is good to remember to be thankful for the family you have. They are going to be there for you no matter what.

Humans of Etown

Q: Is there something you are looking forward to most over break? “Well you see, although I will not be able to return to my home since it is some 2,000/3,000 miles away, I’m looking forward to spending time with my oversized family, eating an oversized dinner. I think I’m looking most forward to food and family… and the lack of school work!”
Q: Is there something you are looking forward to most over break?
“Well you see, although I will not be able to return to my home since it is some 2,000/3,000 miles away, I’m looking forward to spending time with my oversized family, eating an oversized dinner. I think I’m looking most forward to food and family… and the lack of school work!”

Picture by: Aileen Ida

Q: Are there any Thanksgiving traditions you are specifically looking forward to over break? “My family usually gets together in Maine, we all go to my grandmother’s house and have dinner together, but this year because I’m at Etown my boyfriend and I are going to meet here in Etown and just stay here and make a little Thanksgiving dinner together.”
Q: Are there any Thanksgiving traditions you are specifically looking forward to over break?
“My family usually gets together in Maine, we all go to my grandmother’s house and have dinner together, but this year because I’m at Etown my boyfriend and I are going to meet here in Etown and just stay here and make a little Thanksgiving dinner together.”

Picture by: Aileen Ida

Click here to see the third humans of Etown post.

Click here to see what traditions some families have.