Last weekend, UISG had the incredible opportunity to attend the ABTS summer conference, where we proposed a resolution that stood in support of reauthorizing the Perkins Loan Extension Program. Receiving support from the majority of the ABTS delegation, our resolution passed!
The Perkins Loan Program currently stands as the longest-standing federal loan program. Throughout the last 60 years, this program has served nearly 30 million students nationwide— although some institutions of higher education choose not to participate, all schools within the Big 10 provide undergraduate and graduate student loans through this program. As of 2014, Congress chose to neither repeal or reauthorize the program, so based on General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), the program was extended for one fiscal year following its terminal year. Following the expiration of the extended funds and coverage through GEPA, Congress passed the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extensions Act of 2015, which is set to expire September 30th, 2017. Our resolution addressed the importance of equal access to higher education, as well as the significant impact that this loan program has made. This resolution also stood in support of the reauthorization of this program, as well as finding a long-term solution to the Perkins Loan Program.
While at the ABTS conference, we learned about various new ideas and initiatives. The University of Wisconsin’s presentation provided valuable information regarding their implementation of “Our Wisconsin”— a program that focuses on individual and systemic identities, oppressions, and privileges that all first-year students are required to complete. They also implemented identity-cognizant mental health counselors, a “Building Bill of Rights” that ensures gender-inclusive and accessible bathrooms in all new buildings, and are making their dining halls food-stamps accessible. Rutgers University also gave a compelling presentation regarding their adaption of Town Hall meetings, a “text RUPD program” for non- emergent situations, off-campus security cameras, and “Midnight Snacks” to reduce alcohol culture during high-profile party nights.