Senator Franken Introduces “The Arbitration Fairness for Students Act”

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October 4, 2012 · by Wes · Spark Notes

Just before Congress departed for recess, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the “Arbitration Fairness for Students Act,” S. 3557.  The bill would prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration requirements in required enrollment contracts.  

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The bill was referred to the Senate HELP Committee and is extremely unlikely to receive consideration in the 112th Congress, but it does have several cosponsors and provides an indication on the views of several Democratic Senators heading to into the 113th.  Joining Franken as cosponsors are Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-IL.), Mark Begich (D-AK), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“When students go off to college or enroll in classes later in life, they should be able to count on the educational services they were told they'd receive – and most of the time, they can,” Franken said in a press release announcing the legislation. “But on the rare occasion that a college egregiously takes advantage of a student, they should have the right to access our court system to address their grievances, and that's what this bill would give them.”

Senate HELP Committee Tom Harkin (D-IA) was also quoted in the press release on S. 3557.  He did not mention “rare occasions” where a student might want to file a complaint against their college, but instead indicated his recent report on for-profit higher education found mandatory arbitration clauses “abound in their enrollment contracts” in that particular sector.

A press release from Sen. Franken, which includes the text and video of his remarks on introducing the legislation, is available online:  http://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=2206

The text of S. 3557 is available online:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s3557is/pdf/BILLS-112s3557is.pdf

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