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Mental and Behavioral Health

New research has shown that “social leisure engagement” — socializing while taking part in recreational activities– is associated with better mental health for emerging adult college students.

Researchers are seeing an increase in mental health issues among student loan borrowers crippled by the financial burden of repayment. Last month, GreenPath Financial Wellness, a national nonprofit that helps people who have debt conducted a survey of 152 clients nationwide who had student loans.  82% reported feeling stressed about their loans and 72% reported that it was affecting their ability to sleep. Brad O’Brien, a financial education manager at GreenPath, said, “A lot of times people feel like the walls are moving in on them and there’s no out. We have people who are significantly stressed by their financial situation and we have had people in the past who have said they’ve had those thoughts before, of suicide. That’s definitely a reality.”

According to a new research study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, today’s college students strive for perfection more than previous generations, which may be damaging their mental health. In an analysis of nearly 42,000 college students from the United States, Canada and Britain from 1989 to 2016, lead author Thomas Curran of the University of Bath and co-author Andrew Hill of York St. John University identify three types of perfectionism: self-oriented, socially prescribed, and other-oriented perfectionism. The most drastic increase in perfectionism was attributed to perceived social expectation, which increased by 33%. The researchers point to several factors to explain the increase in socially prescribed perfectionism, but the data suggests that social media and the tendency to compare may be the driving force.

Diversity and Inclusion

The California State Department of Justice found that Oscar Monge, a lecturer in American Indian studies at San Diego State University, harassed and discriminated against a student because she is white. The report, which analyzed private facebook messages between Monge and the student, said Monge accused the student of adopting a “white savior” complex and trying to look Native American. The report deemed Monge’s messages as having “animus toward white people.”

Florida Gulf Coast University is offering a new course called “White Racism” that, according to the course description, will confront “white racism and white supremacy” and examine “racist ideologies, laws, policies and practices” that “maintain white racial domination”. The announcement was met with controversy, largely directed at Ted Thornhill, the professor who designed the course. While there were no outright threats of violence, Thornhill sent campus police 46 pages of emails and voicemails that he received about the class, prompting university officials to send two police officers to the vicinity of the building on its first day.

Last night, a federal judge in California blocked President Trump’s order that ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The program has permitted about 800,000 young people, many of them college students, to remain in the United States but without permanent legal status.

Free Speech

Over the past several years, groups with strong political beliefs have seized upon statements made by professors, provoking backlashes against them and their institutions. The Chronicle of Higher Education created a collection named Professors and Free Speech”, that describes what happens to professors that find themselves in the political crosshairs, and how their universities have responded.

College Affordability

The Trump administration is considering a plan that would make it harder for former college students who accuse schools of fraudulent behavior to have their student loans forgiven. The plan would replace an Obama-era policy designed to reimburse students who say their colleges lied to them while recruiting. Under the new plan, former students would have to show that their colleges had an “intent to deceive” or knowingly provided false information, and submit evidence that is “clear and convincing.”

The Wall Street Journal conducted an analysis of today’s college students, finding that many work at least part-time to cover their tuition and living costs.  The Journal’s analysis focused on type of school attended and school selectivity, diversity, costs, working while in schools, chosen fields of study, and time to degree completion.

Health

A recent report by two Princeton University economists found that Americans who haven’t been to college live shorter, less healthy lives, and are losing ground compared with college graduates. The Chronicle explains the research in detail.

Greek Life

Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity, has been barred from operating in Pennsylvania for 10 years  after it was found guilty of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 hazing death of Chun Hsien Deng, a pledge at Baruch College.  Four men were sentenced to jail for their role in Deng’s death and the fraternity was ordered to pay more than $112,000.  The case drew national attention and galvanized efforts to prevent hazing on college campuses.

Sexual Health and Contraception

Students at Boise State University are pushing for a Health and Wellness vending machine that could carry items like  contraceptives, tampons, the emergency contraceptive Plan B and pregnancy tests, in addition to less controversial items like lip balm, ibuprofen and nasal decongestant. A proposal for the machine argues that while contraceptives and other items are available at university health centers, the health centers are closed on the weekends, when students need them most. While the push for the machines is student-driven, it has the support of the University Health and Wellness Center. Michelle Ihmels, Boise State’s director of wellness, said, “It’s a good idea because it will give students access to items on campus that they can’t get when Health Services is closed. But all the items they claim they will be stocking are things that can be bought at a local pharmacy/drug store/grocery store. It will just be more convenient to have on campus.”

Today, a bill that would require all University of California and California State University campuses to offer medical abortions is due in front of the Senate Education Committee. According to the bill, all public California colleges currently have on-campus health centers but none provide abortion options for pregnant students. Pro- life advocacy groups are adamantly opposing the legislation.

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