UCA's latest lick | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 14, 2008

UCA's latest lick

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 5:53 AM

I mentioned yesterday that installment debt of UCA students would be the next subject of interest in righting the fiscally wracked campus.

Sure enough. There it is in D-G this morning -- $4 million in accrued delinquent student debt.

I'd attempted yesterday in emails to two campus officials to get an accounting of outstanding student debt. My requests were not answered. Nor was a request answered regarding the waivers that most campuses customarily get from students so that they may publicize their scholarship awards. Nor was my question answered about how UCA justifies releasing some scholarship winners but not others (those benefitting from the extraordinary "discretionary" scholarship program that grew to a $300,000 annual cost during the administration of President Lu Hardin.)

UCA has a way to go to get its affairs in order, it would seem. I'm sorry that press stonewalling is a part of the new era.

UPDATE: I heard back from UCA today. It says that all scholarship athletes sign a waiver that allows release of information about their scholarships. Students who receive academic scholarships are provided news releases about the scholarships which they may complete and send to hometown newspapers, thus effectively choosing themselves to waive confidentiality. Students who received the discretionary awards received no waiver forms and signed none. Thus, the school continues to argue, that information is confidential under federal law. They prefer, I gather, not to call these "scholarships" at all. It is true they are not, in the sense that it was NOT money extended for academic merit or need, but waivers of costs granted by the university president on criteria he alone set. Who you knew didn't hurt, clearly.

UCA officials say the request for the discretionary spending is the first FOI turned down since closer inspection of the school began and they insist it's required by law.

The law can be waived by agreement of the student. Perhaps UCA should ask them all if they'd be willing to be disclosed as a recipient of fee waivers. Sen. Baker, why don't you call for that?

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