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November 20, 1987     The Message
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November 20, 1987
 

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana November 20, 1987 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor Thanksgiving: a feast of plenty during a time of transition ' Just yesterday it was April Fools' Day, it seems. Next week is Thanksgiving. Holidays seem like communities along an in- terstate highway; you can stop for nourishment and replenishment, if you want to or have to. Or you can ignore them. My family has had more than its share of holidays since April, between homes in north- western Illinois and southwestern Indiana. We observed Easter in the city of our new home, the sacrament of Confirmation and the ritual of an eighth-grade graduation in the city of our old home. We were nourished as a family, and as Christians, I believe, at each of those points. Between April and November, my family celebrated a Spring of separation, a Summer of reunion and a Fall busy with new schools, scouts, football, basketball and wrestling. Each celebration brought a kind of nourishment and enrichment -- a greater knowledge of our new area and the peo- ple in it. Thanksgiving is a holiday born in a time of transition, when families chose to be uprooted to move from a former home to a new one yet to be made. Thanksgiving seems the perfect holiday to celebrate uncertainty. In many ways and on various levels, Christmas celebrates the coming of Christ and the coming of other gifts, the return of the sun to a darkened world; New Year's commemorates the end of one year and the beginning of another, a door allowing passage -- or at least a good view -- in either direction. Thanksgiving should wrench us from the ordinary expectations of the everyday, into a celebration of the unexpected. It seems significant that Thanksgiving did not originate in the lands our ancestors left; Thanksgiving demands a break from the customs and habits and predictability of the old world, and a leap into the new. Maintaining the status quo is not a Thanksgiving value. Thanksgiving originated with a feast of plenty, before a winter of scarcity. Ordinary nourishment can not prepare a people for months of darkness. Only a feast of faith and plenty can provide enough to sustain a people -- or a family. This year, we will celebrate Thanksgiving in new surroundings, in a way we did not even im- agine the last time we celebrated the feast. If we celebrate properly, we will be prepared for the uncertainties of the coming year. We give thanks for the grace of change, and pray for more. Forgive us our complacency, and lead us not into predictability. .Washington Letter Catholic colleges and federal student loan defaults BySTEPHENIE OVERMAN NC News Service WASHINGTON (NC) -- Catholic college administrators share Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's goal of reducing student loan defaults but they don't think the end justifies the means he recently proposed. Bennett has threatened to ex- pel institutions from federal student aid programs if their future student loan default rates exceed 20 percent. In a letter to presidents of col- leges and universities par- tic.ipating in the federal Guaranteed Student Loan pro- gram, Bennett said default rates will be calculated beginning this fiscal year. By December 1990, if annual rates are above 20 percent, he said new depart- ment procedures could restrict or even end participation in federal aid programs, including Pell Grants, work-study and other loans. Nearly, 2,200 institutions have student loan default rates that exceed 20 percent but only a handful of Catholic colleges are among them, according to a lis t prepared by the Department of Education. More than 500 in- stitutions have default rates 00osgaoo 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week In December by the Catholic Press of Evamwllle. Publisher ........ eilhop Fnmi$ R. Shoa Ammclato Publilher .... Roy. Joleph Zlliak Editor .................. PAul Lelngang Circulation Mgr....Mrs. RON Montrutelle Product/on Mgt ............... Phi/8oger Advertlllng Mgr ............... Dan Horty Addreu stl communicatiom, to P.O. Box 4169, Evansvlho, IN 47711. Phons (812) 424-6536. Subscription rate: $15 per year Entered as 2rid clau melter at the pca! el- rice in Evansville, IN 47701, Publication number 843800. Pootmaater: Return POD forms 3579 to the Office of Publication. i above 50 percent. The government will spend $1.6 billion this year to repay banks for defaulted loans. Since Bennett's announce- ment Nov. 4, higher education officials have been pointing out that their colleges do not assess students' credit ratings, only their financial need. Officials describe their colleges as only a conduit for federal aid to the students and said it is the banks that have greater control over loan default rates. Jesuit Father Joseph A. O'Hare, president of Fordham University, New York, said Fordham is "all for the idea of trying to cut down the rate of default but our ability is somewhat limited:" The Department of Education listed the default rate of Ford- ham students as 8.7 percent and Father O'Hare said that overall "the rate of default at most Catholic colleges is not egregious." Students at technical schools, beauty schools and business schools have the highest default rates, according to Education Department statistics. GARY KRULL, director of public relations at Georgetown University, Washington, said the university wants to be of assistance wherever it can in helping avoiding student loan defaults. "We talk about it a lot," he said. The Department of Educa- tion lists the default rate of Georgetown students as only 5 percent. Krull said the university tries to keep that rate low by telling students: '"Here's what you're signing, here's what you're committing to, here's what comes afterwards.' We try to make sure our kids are realistic." Krull estimated that more than 60 percent of the students at Georgetown receive some kind of aid or are in a work- study program. Mercy College of Detroit, a Catholic college where 85 per- cent of the students receive some kind of financial aid, was listed by the Department of Education as having a 29.7 stu- dent loan default rate. The statistics used by the Department of Education are from 1985 and Vickie Crupper, director of financial aid at Mer- cy College, said the most recent statistics show an 16.8 percent default rate. Thomas J. Lawton, vice presi- dent of business and financial affairs at Mercy College, said the statistics show "we're go- ing in the right direction" but said that it is not really the col- lege that has control over default rates. "We determine the need for financial aid but we aren't the ones controlling the funds. The bank does have the ability," he said. Lawton said Marcy's relative- ly high default rate may be because it "is not an affluent cadre of students. It's basically a commuting college for students in the Detroit area. Also, when the students graduate the types of jobs they get may have a bearing on it." Lawton said he sees "some possibly serious indications for students not being able to at- tend Mercy College or other similar-type institutions" if the schools are barred from federal student aid programs. Chert Clark, director of finan- cial aid at the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Neb., sug- gested other means of reaching the goal of lowering student default rates. More education, counseling and deferments for students are needed, said Ms. Clark, who also expressed concern that the colleges are being held respon- sible for loans they do not grant or collect. The College of St. Mary had an 21.6 percent default rate in 1985, according to the Depart- ment of Education. Ms. Clark said the college, a predominantly women's col- lege with about 1,000 students, was studying why the rate was high and what could be done about it. "One thing we might want to pursue is to (ask the govefl . ment to} open up the types of deferments." If a students could defer in more cases, "the intention might be to repay rather than default." More publicity about students who default also might discourage defaulting on loans, she said. And more counseling "might help," Ms. Clark said. "We're beefing that up more and more .... Everyone needs to take measures to educate students in advance" about their respon- sibility for repaying loans. Nominee Continued from page 1 nedy upheld the Navy's policy of discharging sailors discovered to be homosexuals. At the time he said he was only ruling on the legality, not the wisdom of the policy. Ha also made a passing reference to Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, but in Mrs. Brown's view the reference was "not qualified and leads us to be suspicious about his fooling on Roe vs. Wade," she said. In the ruling Kennedy re- fused to extend the right to privacy to protect those sailors discharged from the Navy, but in general observers say he seems to accept the right to privacy. The privacy doctrine is the basis for abortion rights. By contrast, Bork used cases of that type to shore up his argument that the U.S. Con- stitution contains no general- ized right of privacy. "We will make sure our ques- tions are asked during the (con- firmation) hearings and see how he answers them," Mrs. Brown said. In a statement released Nov. 12, Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the Na- tional Right to Life Committee, said the 1980 ruling "reveals little one way or the other about Judge Kennedy's views on Supreme Court precedent regarding abortion." "We are pleased that Judge Kennedy has a general commit- ment to judicial restraint, even though he has never taken a specific position on Roe vs. Wade," Johnson said. "We recognize that Roe vs. Wade is the product of judicial activism and has no basis in the text or history of the Constitu- tion. Roe vs. Wade cannot sur- vive an honest reading of the Constitution," he added. "We believe that Roe vs. Wade will be reversed when there is a ma- jority of Supreme Court justices who are committed to judicial restraint." Edward R. Grant, executive director and general counsel for the Chicago-based Americans United for Life, said Kennedy fit into Reagan's platform of choosing nominees who "take a view of judicial restraint and show reverence or respect for the sanctity of human life." "There is no reason to believer the president has backed away from those two principles," Grant said. "We don't know anything specific about his (Kennedy's) position {on abor- tion)." The "tenor of his opinions seems to indicate he would be open to the arguments we'd present in opposition of Roe vs. Wade," he added. "In some respects he is the best we can hope for." Grant expressed concern about confirmation hearings be- ing delayed "unneccessarily" which would be a"great disser- vice" to the country. Reagan asked for prompt hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee but chair- man Sen. Joseph Biden, D-De1., has indicated hearings might not be possible until January.