SA president votes against change to Higher Education Act

Student Association President Caity Leu vetoed a piece of legislation calling for an alteration to the Higher Education Act of 1998 Saturday.

The legislation, which was passed by the SA Senate at an emergency meeting Thursday, advocated the repeal of a section of the Education Act mandating students convicted of any drug-related offense be denied eligibility for financial aid for at least one year. The legislation was brought before the Senate by a student petition sponsored by members of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.

The petition was signed by more than 200 students, said Brian Gralnick, a member of the SSDP executive board.

Kristy Gomes, president of SSDP, explained the group’s opposition to the drug provision at the meeting.

To take people who are already at risk and deny them education will only increase recidivism, she said.

Leu said part of the reason she issued a veto is because she does not feel the legislation is indicative of the average student’s viewpoint.

It’s my opinion that the majority of students would rather have more financial aid in the pool than money going to people convicted of a crime, she said. Higher education is a privilege, not a right.

Leu said the section of the Education Act does not prevent a student convicted of a drug offense from going to college, citing other options for financing a college education, such as merit-based scholarships and personal loans. She also said when students sign the forms for federal financial aid, they must agree to abide by federal laws.

Gralnick said he was upset Leu was not in favor of the legislation.

The law is basically discriminatory in nature, he said. I think she failed the students.

-Theresa Crapanzano and Kate Stepan

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