Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Stadium Hosting The Super Bowl Is Sponsored With Taxpayer Dollars Meant For Veterans
More than 100 million people are estimated to tune in to Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown between the Seahawks and the Patriots. But there’s a subplot to the stage for the game --- the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium in Glendale, Arizona --- that speaks to a contentious topic in the modern military veterans’ world.
The Arizona Cardinals sold the naming rights for their stadium to the University of Phoenix, a for-profit, largely online, system of colleges and universities.
It was a massive corporate sponsor deal inked in 2006. According to a 2009 New York Times piece, the deal spans 20 years and costs the University of Phoenix $7.7 million for each year of the deal, or $154 million over the course of the sponsorship.
But where do they get that much money for a marketing endeavor? The answer lies in programs designed to help the modern military and veterans population, as well as a business model designed to recruit hundreds of thousands of students and charge them lofty tuition rates for questionable degrees.
The school reportedly employs as many as 8,000 recruiters, who work to make sure paying students are enrolled at their campuses across the country. Due to its for-profit model, the University of Phoenix has to justify its business model to the people who own stock in its parent company — the Apollo Education Group — not its student population.
Indeed, many University of Phoenix campuses boast a student loan default rate that’s higher than its graduation rate. A 2013 USA Today study named no fewer than eight distinct University of Phoenix campuses had higher student loan default rates — consistently 26.4% — than graduation rates.
But having its students take our burdensome student loans to finance their education is not the University of Phoenix’s sole source of income. Indeed, the school heavily targets the modern military veterans population, whose members have the post-9/11 G.I. Bill at their disposal, which can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to veterans obtaining degrees after their military service.
The University of Phoenix system has made a staggering amount of money from the G.I. Bill — almost $1 billion, according to a report published by the Daily Beast in 2014.
One of those University of Phoenix campuses with a lower graduation rate than student loan default — the one in San Diego, California — has a graduation rate of 10% and a student loan default rate of over 26%, according to that USA Today report. That campus was part of a Center for Investigative Reporting report published last year. In it, reporter Aaron Glantz detailed how since 2009, that specific San Diego campus — with an enrollment of around 3,000 students — had taken more money from the G.I. Bill than any individual college or university in the United States.
What’s more, according to Glantz’ reporting, that same individual University of Phoenix San Diego campus has taken more G.I. Bill money since 2009 than every school in the entire University of California system combined.
This disparity, this profiteering on taxpayer dollars that are intended to help veterans, has led to one group, the Veterans Student Loan Relief Fund, to create a change.org petition surrounding the University of Phoenix.
The fund exists to offer financial relief to veterans who have fallen in dire straits due to burdensome student debt. The group’s website details much of the problems with the University of Phoenix’s financial model. According to the group, the average American community college spends more than $3,000 per student on instruction. In 2010, the University of Phoenix spent fewer than $900 per student on instruction.
Additionally, the Apollo Education Group, the publicly traded parent of the University of Phoenix, gets a staggering 92% of its revenue from federal funds like the G.I. Bill, according to the fund.
“Support students, not stadiums,” the change.org petition reads, reflecting that no other institution of higher education owns the rights to a professional sports arena. No other school can afford to. No other school spends a reported $2,225 per student on marketing.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.