The Public Accountability Initiative Partners with the Student Debt Campaign to Document the Dubious Schemes through Which U.S. Corporations Are Generating Profits from Public Higher Education

This announcement may be somewhat dated, but it is the first that I have seen it. I think that everyone should be aware of it, even if your institution is not participating. And it is possible that they may still be looking for institutions to participate.

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Kick Wall St. Off Campus!

Investigation & Research Wiki

From toxic interest rate swaps by Wall St. execs turned administrators in California to pay to play schemes in New York and Texas that made one lender “preferred” while financial aid officers owned its stock, we have seen countless examples over the last few years of Wall St. cashing in on higher ed.

In collaboration with the student debt campaign, the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) is launching a project to help campus based activists research the connections between their universities and Wall Street, and the ways in which Wall Street is skimming profits from higher ed. PAI will be setting up a dedicated campaign portal and series of research groups on LittleSis.org, (the opposite of “Big Brother”), our flagship investigative research site. We will also be publishing a research guide and running a series of research trainings with students on select campuses.

We are working to identify five public universities at which to pilot the project during the next two months (starting in Nov. 2013). If you would like your university (or system) to participate, please email Whitney Yax at whitney@publicaccountability.org.

The research project will support students as they hunt for answers to the following types of questions:

— Are/were any trustees, administrators, high profile faculty or other decision makers on the Wall St payroll?

— Does your university have any special agreements with Wall St firms to provide students with loans, credit cards, payment services or other banking products?

— Is your university borrowing from Wall St. for pricey capital projects? Is your university’s endowment invested in Wall St.? Does your university have other financing arrangements with Wall St. firms, like interest rate swaps?

— Have Wall St. firms been part of austerity (anti-tax, anti-spending) efforts to decrease state spending on higher ed through trade associations, lobbying, political contributions, etc.?

We’ll be looking for the kind of answers that will call into question the appropriateness, morality, and financial soundness of the university’s ties to Wall St. Do the personal ties of trustees or administrators to Wall St. pose a conflict of interest as they make decisions about the university’s finances? Are student card agreements unnecessary and predatory? Is Wall St.’s role in research threatening the school’s academic independence?

Answering these questions is the first step in your campaign to kick Wall St. off campus. Knowing what questionable role(s) the finance industry is playing on your campus enables you to grow and strengthen your campaign. You can use this information to help identify short-term demands and strategies, attract other students and faculty to the campaign, and garner media attention and public support.

PAI’s online tool for power research, LittleSis, will help guide your investigation. You can add every relationship between your university and Wall St you dig up, analyze those relationships to find common connections, and share findings and research tricks with other students on your campus and around the country.

Interested in being a pilot campus? Email Whitney Yax at whitney@publicaccountability.org

3 thoughts on “The Public Accountability Initiative Partners with the Student Debt Campaign to Document the Dubious Schemes through Which U.S. Corporations Are Generating Profits from Public Higher Education

  1. Pingback: The Regents Research Fellows: Who Are They? | Diane Ravitch's blog

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