College Students Hooked on Credit

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 13—University of Central Oklahoma freshman Mitzi Pool — $2,500 in debt — hanged herself in 1997 in her dormitory room, her checkbook and credit-card bills spread out on her bed.

The AP's Marcy Gordon reported that consumer groups are citing Pool's death to underscore their criticism of credit-card companies, which they say are aggressively trying to get college students hooked on credit.

Georgetown University sociologist Robert Manning has also completed a study showing that some students are forced to cut back on their courses or spend more time working to pay off their credit-card debts, said Gordon. About 70% of students at four-year colleges have at least one credit card, and revolving debt on these cards averages more than $2,000.

Consumer groups criticized colleges and universities for allowing what they said was aggressive marketing of credit cards on campuses and benefiting financially from it, including fees to colleges who permit “affinity” cards linked to colleges, said Gordon.

Instructor Banned after Teaching About Darwin's Doubters

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, June 14—A Minnesota high school science teacher who was banned from teaching biology because of his religious beliefs has sued the school district for religious discrimination and violation of his First Amendment rights of free speech, reported Times’ staffer Andrea Billups.

Robert LeVake, 43, brought suit against Independent School District 656 after he was removed from his biology classes last year. Billups said LeVake “is active in his church” but did not identify his denomination.

“He says he repeatedly assured school administrators that he was not interested in teaching creationism, but wanted to make sure his students knew that not all scientists accept the theories of evolution as ‘unquestionable fact,’” said Billups. The fact that a number of theories about the origin of mankind, including creation, are included the textbook used by the school district was cited by LeVake's attorney.

“This is like telling a Democrat who teaches history that he's not able to teach the history of the Reagan administration because of his political views,” said the attorney, Frank Manion.

LeVake's local teachers union declined to take up his initial defense, said the report.

The New Anarchists

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, June 9—“The new anarchists are young people, mostly white, whose violent tendencies are causing increased concern in light of the recent murder spree at Columbine High School,” said staff reporter Peter Waldman.

While still “more ripple than groundswell,” Waldman reports on an old philosophy that is returning in a more virulent form. “Anarchism, advocating that people govern themselves in small, consensual groups with no institutions of authority, peaked as a U.S. political movement with Chicago's Haymarket Riot in 1886. European immigrants revived the philosophy in the 1920s, and it enjoyed another upswing in the 1960s and 70s in places like Eugene.”

Waldman mentions the Oregon city known for its “liberal attitudes” and “environmental sensitivity” because it has seen “a campaign of vandalism and arson attacks on businesses … including a riot at a downtown Nike store.” The perpetrators are “teenage runaways, high-school kids and university hangerson,” said Waldman.

Not a purely local phenomenon, Waldman said “young, self-described anarchists rear up from the core” of “some of the most active social and environmental grass-roots groups today,” usually via internet sites.

Sixty new books on anarchist themes are now on the market and the copies of works of earlier anarchists like Noam Chomsky have quintupled since 1994.

In a telling part of Waldman's story, he notes that “what distinguishes today's young anarchists … is their palpable despair.” That makes more traditional anarchists nervous. Said “Sleeve” Boutin, 32, an anarchist who works for a Eugene pacifist group: “Some of the young people seem to be operating from a place of hate and anger within themselves.”