Quick Takes: Million Student March

In light of the Million Student March, we considered the plans of various politicians regarding student debt. Is the possibility of universally free education a feasible plan?

The Privilege of Higher Education is Not an Unequivocal “Right”

Students at campuses across the nation have begun to rally against rising college tuition, claiming that higher education is a “right” for everyone. This idea may sound nice in theory, but it cannot be applied practically. When you look at the numbers behind our broken college system right now, reforms for free education are both economically impossible and out of touch with the needs of the American population.

One of the demands of the Million Student March, according to its Facebook page is a free college education for all, a demand that is echoed in the presidential platform of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. According to the Washington Post, Sanders’ higher education plans claim that raising taxes is the only way to fund this initiative. Yet in a nation polarized over every issue, it is unlikely a measure like that could be agreed upon. 

In the U.S. there is a wariness toward paying for other peoples’ services, especially if it doesn’t seem worth it. For example, Tom Lindsay argued to Forbes that low graduation rates and post-grad unemployment stats indicate that some students are better off pursuing career-oriented training instead of a college education. In light of such information that shows college doesn’t always pay off, paying higher taxes for it is a difficult sell.

With the increasing commercialization of higher education and the decline of a traditional liberal education, the benefits of “college for everyone” need to be questioned. At this point, making college free won’t solve all of our problems and will only create more economic and social stress.

— SOPHIE OSBORN Contributing Writer

Bernie Sanders Will Fight On Behalf of College Education

In an election full of unconventional contenders rising in the polls, it has become clear that Americans want change. So it comes as no surprise that Bernie Sanders, “an ex-hippie, septuagenarian socialist,” as described in the Washington Post, is one of the frontrunners as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election. Sanders has defended his democratic socialist perspective by emphasizing the “democratic” part of that phrase, according to the New York Times. Most importantly, his extremely leftist plans for universally free public education offer viable solutions to student debt.

Though critiqued as idealistic and expensive, Sanders’ platform has gained support from college students around the nation who seek change, as seen by Thursday’s Million Student March, which advocated for tuition-free public college, cancellation of all student debt and a $15-an-hour campus wide minimum wage. Bernie Sanders incorporates the demands of students into his platform, and the issues he fights for are relevant to the working class.

His taxation plans call for universal action and the growth of the middle class. Sanders once described himself as having the most unusual political history of anybody in the U.S. Congress, and that just might be a defining factor for his popularity. Publicly funded college education is possible, obliteration of student debt is possible and a campus wide minimum wage increase is possible. The support for the movement is clearly pervasive. Education is a right, and the Million Student March and Bernie Sanders’ platform represent just that.

— AARTHI VENKAT Contributing Writer

Hilary Clinton Offers More Realistic Alternative to Sanders

When college tuition has steadily risen 200 percent at some schools, according to College Board, it’s quite clear that student debt has become a national problem. USA Today reported that $1.2 trillion in student debt is hamstringing the careers of thousands of millennials, many of whom find themselves stuck with exorbitant interest rates. Is this the American Dream?

According to CNN, Bernie Sanders’ plan promises that, for every dollar each state spends on higher education, the federal government would put in $2 as additional funding. Sanders’ plan largely relies on increased taxes from Wall Street and corporations to generate $300 billion a year; however, this number has repeatedly been shown to be infeasible. Actual estimates from CNN put the income from Sanders’ tax increases around $51 billion, which is tiny compared to the $750 billion Sanders wants to spend. His plan is not realistic, given these numbers.

Hillary Clinton’s plan, on the other hand, is far more realistic in a bipartisan Congress. While Sanders failed to attract even a single cosponsor on his bill for free tuition, according to Congress.gov, Clinton wants to expand accountability through a bipartisan proposal that would require colleges to pay a portion of defaulted student loans, and she’s pushing for more money to be spent on low- and middle-income students who traditionally bear the brunt of student debt. According to the Washington Post, Clinton’s plan is estimated to cost $350 billion, half of what Sanders has proposed for largely similar results. When compared side-by-side, it’s clear that Clinton’s plan is far superior for helping students. 

 — NATE WALKER Contributing Writer

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