COLLEGE OPPORTUNITY AND AFFORDABILITY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - February 07, 2008)
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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I support H.R. 4137. It is a great piece of legislation. I commend Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon and all the members of the committee. I think that this is truly visionary with regard to the cost, restoring integrity and accountability, and expanding college access.
I am the first member of my family to have the opportunity to go to college. I deeply appreciate what the committee has done. There is one part of the bill I want to provide emphasis to and that is the fire safety part. I have worked on this issue for over 7 years. I was deeply involved in the issue after the horrific fire at Seton Hall University in South Orange in 2000. We lost three students. Fifty-eight other students were injured severely.
This horrible tragedy made it clear that something needed to be done to educate students, their families, the faculty and the staff about the dangers of fires on campuses; and that is why I introduced the Campus Fire Safety Right to Know Act. Parents and students have a right to know about the school's campus fire safety policies and records.
I ask full support of this legislation, and I thank the committee members again for the great work they did.
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I rise today in strong support for the College Opportunity and Affordability Act, H.R. 4137, and I commend Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon for bringing this worthy measure to the floor.
This comprehensive, bipartisan bill will reauthorize the Higher Education Act through FY 2012 while addressing concerns about the cost of education, restoring integrity and accountability to student loan programs, expanding college access and support for low income and minority students, and strengthening our workforce and competitiveness.
In addition, H.R. 4137 addresses an issue that I have made a priority for over 8 years, which is vital to the safety and security of American college students--fire safety on our college campuses.
The statistics relating to fire safety on college campuses are startling. Each year, thousands of fires rage through the campuses and off-campus housing of our colleges and universities.
I became deeply involved in the issue of campus fire safety after experiencing the terrible aftermath of a catastrophic fire at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, in 2000. That fire killed three young freshmen and wounded 58 other students in a dorm on campus.
This horrible tragedy made it clear that something needed to be done to educate students, their families, faculty, and staff about the danger of fires on the campuses of our colleges and universities.
As such, I introduced the ``Campus Fire Safety Right to Know Act,'' a version of which is included in the bill we are considering today.
The campus fire safety reporting requirement in H.R. 4137 mandates that colleges and universities provide prospective and current students and parents with a report of the school's campus fire safety policies and records.
Educating students about fire safety during their time in school will have a strong impact on the choices they make in the future. If we can influence what they learn, we can create a more fire-safe generation for tomorrow and potentially save thousands of lives.
I want to once again state my strong support for this legislation. As the first member of my family to attend college, I applaud the Chairman and Ranking Member for their dedication to making the dream of a college education a reality for so many Americans who otherwise would not have had that chance.
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