Friday, March 27, 2009

Marketing Sophomore Travis Shepard watches two news pundits discuss the stimulus package while doing his Spanish homework. Although the legislation was crafted in Washington D.C., it's impact may soon affect him and others in Norman. In the audio below, Senior Economist Keith Leggett discusses the purpose behind including education in the stimulus package.

Stimulus Package Coming to Sooner Country

Oklahoma schools may receive a piece of the stimulus package goodness, which may stop tuition and fee increases for higher education.

Pres. Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Feb 17, in hopes of stimulating and stabilizing the current condition of the economy, according to the bill's text. Part of the package designates a large amount of money for k-12 education to upper education.

The package targets multiple investments on the state level including $288 billion towards tax relief and $58 billion towards education and training.

Obama's Federal Stimulus Package will provide $287 million to education in Oklahoma, some of which may end up in the hands of the University of Oklahoma.

Keith Leggett, senior economist for the American Bankers Association, said the purpose behind giving the states part of the package is due to state budgetary problems causing a cut back in their funding of higher education.

"The view was this was going to be a drag on the economy in the short run," Leggett said. "This would also harm long term economic growth because by cutting resources in education we are really reducing our investment in the American people making us less productive going forward."

Leggett said the package will give $40.6 billion, $17.6 billion to increase student aid and $200 billion to work study programs. This bill also contained $14 billion in educational tax credits. Leggett said work study programs are part of it because many students depend on it.

Prior to spring break, the presidents of all publicly funded colleges in the state, including University of Oklahoma Pres. David Boren, met with Gov. Brad Henry. Henry asked the group of presidents that tuition not be increased next year at public universities.

Leggett, however, said he believes tuition and fees will be unaffected due to the fact tuition is driven by other factors and basic supply and demand forces. Leggett said he doesn't see this as a factor that will cut the rate of growth in tuition and fees.

Keri Dennis, congressional staffer for Tom Cole, said after Congress passed a bill with total figures, the education portion was handed over to the Federal Secretary of Education. The numbers and rules are still being worked out by the Federal Secretary of Education.

"From visiting with my contacts at the State level, they know what the total amount will be, however are just in a waiting game until March 31st," Dennis said. "I have also been told that schools are being advised to treat these dollars as "one-time funding" to possibly put in geo-thermal air units, or put on a new roof, or something of that nature."

Most of the money, however, will go towards lower education, but higher education, such as the Univerisity of Oklahoma, may apply for the money.

Higher education may end up receiving roughly $31 billion, according to Leggett. The states will allocate the money to state universities allowing them to maintain faculty and staff and continue to provide resources to meet student body needs.

Higher education can also apply for funding from different portions of the package. Universities, such as OU, may be able to receive money from the energy and environmental portions. Pres. David Boren's $260 million initiative with OG&E to mold OU into a university ran entirely by wind-energy, may be valid for for the energy and environmental sections of the stimulus package.

Leggett said parts of the package allocates resources to alternative energy making grants available that OU may be able to tap into.

The bill also gives $98 million in Pell Grants for Oklahoma. This will increase the average grant by $500.

Nationally, the Pell Grant Program will receive $17 billion from the package. The Pell Grant Program gives low income students the ability to receive need-based grants. Grants are available to both undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students.

Leggett said that the point of the stimulus package is to provide long term commitment to the economy.

"Without this commitment you would see Universities scale back programs. You would also see some students not be able to afford," Leggett said. "Therefore, this would reduce their productivity and in the long run may reduce the standard of living for these individuals."

Dennis said that nobody in education, at the moment, knows exactly how the package will impact education because they do not know the guidelines of implementation. Dennis said it will become clearer March 31.

Those wanting information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 may visit the official Web site.

Listen to what OU Sophomore Monica Woods says when asked where she thinks the money should go if she were in charge....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

University of Oklahoma Sophomore Adam Engel waits to pick up a friend from class in the cold rain. Engel, like many other students, was planning on participating in the Big Event Saturday before hearing its postponement. (Photo by Adam Greenlee)

Weather Forces Big Event to be Postponed

On Thursday The University of Oklahoma's large joint community service event was postponed to April to 18th due to the chance of bad weather causing student organizations to reschedule.

The Big Event is OU's official day of service and happens around the same time every year. Big Event Chair Amanda Holloway said that close to 5,000 students have signed up to participate in The Big Event. Holloway said that a lot of work has gone into making the event possible.

"I think that when people think of the Big Event, they only think of the day of," Holloway said. "We started planing and getting everything together in early spring. It's a lot of work."

The Big Event was scheduled to kick off Saturday March 28; however, fear of bad weather forced the event to a later time.

The Big Event is now scheduled for April 18.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Despite Warnings, Some Students Still Consider Mexico as their Spring Break Destination.

Universities across the U.S., including The University of Oklahoma, have warned students about the dangers of going to Mexico; however, some students can not resist the thrill.

Over the past month, Mexico has been receiving intense coverage over drug war along the border between. The Oklahoma Information Fusion Center issued a safety alert Feb. 26, warning Oklahoma students about the rise in crime in border towns, such as Tijuana. Students like Microbiology Sophomore Kevin Buck, however, say that the stories are not keeping them away.

Buck said he plans on going with friends to Rosarito Beach, which is roughly 20 minutes south of Tijuana. Buck said his reasoning for going to Mexico lies in its cheap expense and beautiful beaches. Buck said he has taken the news into consideration but put much thought into his decision. 

"It worries me a little bit, but i have done a lot of research online with the news most of the killings are dealing with people associated with the drug cartels, or just drugs in general," Buck said. "I believe everything is going to go smoothly and I will have a blast."

The U.S. Department of State has also issued a Travel Alert for citizens who plan on visiting Mexico. Spring break for most Oklahoma colleges begins the second or third week of March. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Students Rush to Purchase Scandals Tickets

Students packed Molly Shi Boren Ballroom in Oklahoma Memorial Union Wednesday in hopes of purchasing tickets for this year's Scandals.

The tickets went on sale 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, and were met with a large crowd. Seperate tickets were sold based on the day of the event, certain days being more expensive than others. Out of all the groups that tried out, only six were chosen to perform in the show. The theme for this year is "One for the History Book." 

For the past couple of months, fraternities, sororities and other student organizations have been vigorously preparing for Scandals try outs which were held Feb. 15. Mark Salvie, energy management senior and Scandals director, said that this year was extremely competitive.

"It's extremely competitive," Salvie said. "We had to be very fair in how we do all the scoring and production points."

Salvie said they will sell the remaining tickets on April 2 before the Thursday show. The show will be part of parents weekend. 

Listen to Salvie's description of  this year's Scandals....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Junior Ronald Tong diligently studies for his Calculus test. (Photo by Adam Greenlee)

Oklahoma Students Prepare for the Midterm Blues.

The proximity of spring break signals in the dreaded midterms for some students at the University of Oklahoma.

It may not be as detrimental as finals week, but the pressure of midterms still packs much anxiety for some students. The library becomes a popular choice for students to study at. Bizzel library offers many study areas, as well as group study rooms.

Some students decide to pull all nighters to cram for their exams the night before, using energy drinks and coffee to give their focus a special boost. Other students, like Freshman Lexie Kinion, however, said they choose to study days before the test. Kinion says she makes use of her dorm's study lounge over the library due to close convenience. Kinion said she chooses to start  studying days before the test.  

"I usually just sit down and read my notes and reread the chapters in my textbook a couple of hours a night before the test," Kinion said. "I just use the study hall in my dorm, or me and some friends may get a group together so it's fun and not all studying.

Midterms officially end Friday for some students. Finals week will begin May 11 and end May 15.

Click here to listen to what Kinion had to say about energy drinks and studying all night. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Oklahoma State Capitol is where the senate honored both the Flaming Lips and the Oklahoma Football team Monday. In 2007, Oklahoma City honored The Flaming Lips with their own alley way in Bricktown. (Photo by Adam Greenlee)
The Oklahoma State Legislator Honors The Flaming Lips and the OU Football Team.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma State Senate announced Monday March 2 that the Flaming Lips' song "Do You Realize??" will be the official rock song of the sooner state. The Senate also honored the University of Oklahoma football team. 

Oklahoma Sen. Mike Schulz presented The Flaming Lips with Oklahoma's Official Rock Song Monday for their 2002 single "Do You Realize??" The decision was made after a year long selecting process that started in 2008 when legislatures started a process of selecting the song by leaving it up to Oklahomans. The song had to either be written or performed by a person from Oklahoma, according to official Web site. The songs ranged from the catchy "Heartbreak Motel" by Elvis Presley to the upbeat "Move Along" by The All American Rejects. 

The State Legislator also honored OU's football team the same day. The football team was aloud to sit on the senate floor; however, the Flaming Lips were forced to sit in the gallery, and stand when their song was presented with the title. Michael Beavor, a legislative control clerk for the state senate, was present at the ceremony and said it was odd the band was asked to sit in the gallery rather than on the senate floor. 

"I asked a couple of people what that was about and I never got a for sure answer because usually they escort them onto the floor to do it," Beavor said. "I thought it was because they are notorious for being outlandish. I never got a confirmation on if that's why or not, but I've been there three or four, and that was the first time they ever had somebody sit up in the gallery." 

The official song will be part of the rock exhibit "Another Hot Oklahoma Night," which will open sometime in 2009.

Listen to who Beavor chose as his pick for the official rock song of Oklahoma...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Buchanan Hall is where OU students pay their tuition and fees, and receive advice about scholarship and student loans. (Photo by Adam Greenlee)

Obama's 2010 Budget Proposal Calls for Direct Federal Funding of Student Loans.

In his 2010 budget proposal, Pres. Barack Obama said he plans to end government-guarenteed loans and to implement more direct government loans. Obama also said he wants to tie the Pell Grant to inflation.

According to his budget proposal, Obama hopes to make it where federal student loans come straight from the government rather than using a program that pays government subsidies to private student loan. The Obama administration said it is doing this to save taxpayers money. This proposal may hurt private student loan organization. The budget also outlined plans to tie the Pell Grant to inflation in order to combat tuition and fees. 

Currently, students at the University of Oklahoma have access to multiple student loans, and some students may even apply for Pell Grants. With the announcement of fee increases Jan. 28 by University of Oklahoma Pres. David Boren, the proposal may come as good news for students eligible for Pell Grants.  Students with an Expected Family Contribution lower than 3850 are eligible to receive a Pell Grant in the state of Oklahoma. Obama also stated on his Web site that he hopes to make the 

"A good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite,"  Obama said in his speech to Congress. "We will provide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete college."

If passed, the budget proposal will go into effect Oct. 1. Obama said he hopes his plan of cutting out loans from private industries will save the nation billions of dollars in the next year.