By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s controversial nominee to oversee Rhode Island’s public colleges is defending her qualifications for the high-profile job despite lacking the same background in education as most of her would-be peers nationally.
A WPRI.com analysis of the résumés of every higher education commissioner – or equivalent official – across the country shows the majority of officials at the helm in their respective states have spent most of their careers in the education field.
• Related: Watch Newsmakers with RI Education Board Chairwoman Eva Marie Mancuso (April 7)
By Carroll Andrew Morse
The question of whether to arm campus police officers at Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, though seemingly a minor chapter in the overall debate about firearms in America, offers unique insight into why issues surrounding guns are so contentious. To quote Dan Kahan, Donald Braman and John Gastil – a trio of professors involved with Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project who have studied how gun matters are contested in public – the debate is intense because the issues at stake are as broad as “preferred ways of organizing, perceiving and justifying social relations.”
The view of Kahan and his colleagues has its roots in cultural anthropology (*), specifically in work started in the latter half of the twentieth century by the British anthropologist Mary Douglas. Douglas sought to identify common principles that could be applied to the analysis of any human society, “primitive” or “modern.” Amongst the concepts she found to be fundamental were that all societies relied on symbols and taboos for communicating intangible ideas to one another, implying that the study of ideas could not be fully separated from the study of their symbolic representations; and that humans everywhere focused on “on moral and political weaknesses they expect will escalate the damage” from dangers they faced, as much as they focused on dangers themselves, causing public debates about potential threats to “link some real danger to some disapproved behavior.”
Real dangers and disapproved behaviors, and moral and political weaknesses are certainly all factors in the debate over arming campus police officers – which is another way of saying that what guns symbolize in this debate is as important as guns themselves.
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Brown University has ended speculation that its growing School of Engineering might move into Dynamo House, but a different educational option is still alive: building a long-discussed new state nursing school in the long-vacant former power plant.
By Tim White
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In the wake of Thursday’s scare at the University of Rhode Island, the leader of the state’s Board of Education says campus police should be armed, but it can’t be an unfunded mandate by state lawmakers.
By Tim White
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – University of Rhode Island officials as well as local and state law enforcement lauded the emergency response to Thursday’s scare, turned false alarm, on the Kingston campus but may consider doing away with a popular game where students shoot each other with toy guns.
• Related: Lockdown lifted at URI; police say no evidence of shooter (April 4)
An announcement this morning was probably welcome news for students at the University of Rhode Island: the college is freezing tuition for the 2013-14 school year, keeping the cost at $10,878 for in-state residents and $26,444 for out-of-staters. The decision is a victory for Governor Chafee, who’s proposed a $6 million increase in funding for state colleges but asked their presidents to freeze tuition as the quid pro quo.
URI’s financial documents show the school is taking much more money from students than it was a decade ago – $140 million more annually as of 2012. State lawmakers often get blamed for that, which has some validity: the state’s appropriation to URI has dropped by $26 million over the same period. Put another way, taxpayer dollars matched 84% of URI’s net student fees in 2002 but only 24% in 2012. Here’s a chart:
That said, it’s not an open-and-shut case that the General Assembly is totally to blame for the skyrocketing cost of attending URI – the increase in net student fees is more than five times larger than the decrease in the state appropriation, and the largest year-over-year hike was actually back in 2004, when net revenue from student fees jumped 17% even as the taxpayer subsidy stayed basically flat.
Update: A reader points out that the direct state appropriation to URI doesn’t reflect the university’s entire taxpayer subsidy because it excludes Rhode Island Capital Plan Funds and state-contributed capital. With those included, the state’s total appropriation to URI fell from $108 million in 2002 to $93 million in 2012, for a smaller cut of 14%, according to the school’s annual audits.
Weygand, who represented the 2nd Congressional District from 1997 to 2001, confirmed Tuesday that multiple people have approached him to suggest he should jump into the 2014 race, and said it’s “very flattering.”
“I think anybody who’s been in office often thinks about whether they should run again, and so to answer your question very candidly, of course I would love to consider serving in a public sector role in some way,” Weygand, 64, told WPRI.com.
The biggest question may be whether Weygand could raise enough money to compete; he estimated a candidate would need at least $3 million to be viable. “Any legitimate candidate has to be able to put the finances behind it,” he said. “That’s certainly a big consideration.” Weygand’s campaign account is currently empty and inactive.
Only 44% of freshmen enrolled at Rhode Island’s public institutions of higher eduction were from in state while 56% are from elsewhere in 2008, according to federal data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal. The figures show 7,244 freshmen at URI, RIC and CCRI were Rhode Island residents while 9,299 migrated from out of state.
Rhode Island was one of only two states in the country where out-of-state freshmen outnumbered in-staters. The other was Vermont, where just 33% of public-college students were in-state residents. The national average is 80%.
“[I]n an era of state budget deficits, out-of-state students are becoming a hot commodity, because they typically pay tuition rates two to three times higher than in-state residents,” the paper explained. “Making the out-of-state student all the more attractive is a declining number of home-grown high-school graduates in many states.”
At the University of Rhode Island, state residents pay less than half as much as their classmates from other places: tuition and fees cost $12,658 for Rhode Island residents but $28,746 for out-of-state residents.
A 34-year-old lawyer who went to Westerly High School, URI and Roger William School of Law has set his sights on becoming the first elected mayor of New London, Conn., in decades, The Day reports:
A political newcomer who wants to be the city’s first elected mayor is seeking the support of residents and the Democratic Town Committee.
Daryl Finizio, 34, who bought a house on Ocean Avenue in June, plans to announce his candidacy at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Crocker House Ballroom, 180 State St. He will discuss his platform for the city, which he calls “A Vision for New London.” Copies of the 40-page document, in English and Spanish, will be available. …
While at URI he was elected president of the student senate and was appointed by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln C. Almond to serve on the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.
He has a law office at his Ocean Avenue home and is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar Association, the Connecticut and Rhode Island bars and the bars for U.S. District Court for Rhode Island and Connecticut.
New London – the 17th-largest city in Connecticut – is holding its first election for mayor since the 1920s this year. Residents there voted in November to switch their municipal government from a city manager to a mayoral system.