All right, I’ve bitten my tongue long enough. Usually I prefer to avoid the heaviest firefights on campus, having plenty to do teaching world history to my seventh graders and taking my own classes in the afternoons. But I am sensing a very limited array of voices on a particular subject, and I really must comment.
We cannot continue to whine like this about the UC fee increases.
I believe we are suffering from a lack of perspective. At 26, I acknowledge that I am very young with a lot to learn in life. And yet some others of my generation, who would no doubt insist that they are ever so worldly, persistently act as if they have no sense whatsoever of life outside this campus.
No one claims that tuition prices haven’t skyrocketed, nor that the increases aren’t impacting the ability of many students to afford school here. It’s mind-boggling to consider what’s happened to the fees in the past decade.
When my brother (a former Aggie columnist himself) graduated from UCD in 2000, I think a year’s tuition cost somewhere around the value of the faded blue ’89 Integra he drove back and forth to campus. Starting fall 2011 at $11,124 a year for undergrads, tuition is close to the cost of a brand-new economy car – every year.
In an ideal world, all public universities would of course be free. But what seems to be lost in all the youthful righteous indignation is a realistic view of the world we actually live in.
For years now, we have had endless marches, sit-ins, campaigns, arrests and roads blocked, expending tremendous time and effort from intelligent and energetic young people, all because we demand that other people pay more money for our college degrees. Meanwhile:
Central and South America are rocked by drug wars while wide swaths of the population continue to live in dire poverty.
Asia is wrestling with severe overpopulation even as horrible disasters can kill hundreds of thousands at a time.
Africa, likely the hardest habitable continent in the world to live in, is beset by horrifying genocide, AIDS and other diseases and leaders as corrupt as they are entrenched.
Governments throughout the Western world are facing utter financial collapse, as the house of cards we’ve built for decades with all kinds of government goodies for everyone comes crashing down.
North Korea is belligerent enough to make a drunken Irishman on St. Patty’s Day look like Gandhi. Iran sprints toward a nuclear bomb while brutally suppressing free speech and Afghanistan has spiked in violence with murderous thugs just waiting for us to leave.
Back home, left and right, there are a lot of people who fear that for the first time America’s children will have tougher lives than their parents did, in countless ways more than the simple cost of higher education.
Even that’s only surveying current events. Take another famous round of student protests for comparison to those of today: Vietnam.
Agree or disagree with the war, it was a huge event. Over 10 years, 58,000 American soldiers died (most young, many drafted), and more than three million Vietnamese from both sides perished, with major implications either way for the Cold War and the international duel between capitalism and communism. And yet some of our generation gets fired up enough about rising tuition to require law enforcement in riot gear? Please!
No matter how much we may complain about the tuition going up, the partial “privatization of our universities” just can’t be too high on the bad news for all mankind scale.
Opposition to the fee hikes is fine. But some folks carry an air about them like this is a battle of Biblical proportions between good and evil, and this is the fight of our lives, and everyone listen to me now dammit because I’ve been an adult for, like, several years now and I know how everything works.
The freedom to go to college is our right. It is not our right to have the taxpayers open their wallets for it as much as we want. The state ain’t paying what it used to and the UC system is short by, oh, I don’t know, several hundred million dollars.
Or, we could choose to forget all of the above and just have another round of protests. Your call, Aggies.
ROB OLSON is all ears for a way to solve the budget crisis without raising fees at firstname.lastname@example.org.