By Thomas Casey
Free college is a misnomer. Unless, of course, someone has unjustly slapped bars around Binghamton University, “Free college! Free it now! It did nothing wrong!” But, college did do something wrong. College imposed $1.2 trillion of debt on its graduates. College inflicted examination anxiety and unceasing stress. College made 19-year-olds memorize the periodic table while subsisting on inedible dinners. “Jail college! Lock it away!” That’s an offbeat rallying cry. Strangely, predominant student organizations like Million Student March (MSM), are calling for more people to join the overtly criminal organization of higher education. These groups are marching to combat burgeoning student debt, declaring that the government should pay for college and absolve all money owed. MSM won over the hearts, minds, and wallets of all college-attending or college-bound kids everywhere with the promise of a 1,460 day/1,459 night, all-expenses paid trip to university. Lodged in the fine print of its proposal is a significantly less sexy message. The organizers of the march push for the federal government to pay for tuition at all public universities. Depending on who you ask, funding will stem from higher marginal tax rates in the highest income brackets or a $0.05 tax levied on stock trades over $100. The harsh truth: free college is a misnomer. The tuition only proposal is a far cry from the idealistic, debt free experience. Amazingly, this shorthanded effort won’t do much in terms of swelling college enrollment. In fact, the policy proposal behind Million Student March is excessively selfish.
BUY NONE GET ONE FREE
We’re down to the gritty dollar details in our academia battlefield. Let’s use a microcosm to sharpen the perspective. Binghamton University costs $200,000 for an in-state, four year undergraduate education. I understand the checks we write out each year are about $20,000, but that only covers Binghamton’s explicit costs. Lost wages, or the salary a high school graduate could earn working full time, cost $27,000 a year in New York State. Coupled with additional fees and conditional living expenses, a year roleplaying as a Bearcat runs up to $50,000. MSM presents its proposal as a panacea. However, the organization calls for only the subsidization of tuition. Time to burst some balloons. Tuition, and strictly tuition, the component MSM will graciously gift to every college hopeful, is $6,470. That’s 12.94% off Binghamton’s total bill. Sounds like a pretty lackluster coupon to me. Unless the demand for State U is more elastic than Flubber, we won’t be opening many more opportunities. MSM’s tuition only proposal isn’t enough to bring forward less fortunate highschoolers. Books, fees, room, board, and lost wages blast away any long term benefits. Destitute, financially overwhelmed New Yorkers can’t commit to Binghamton with only 12% to ride on. MSM’s offer is simply not progressive enough. So why the hullabaloo? Why do self-titled progressives stride in lockstep boasting the tuition paid policy? Most support definitely stems from misguidedness. Again, the unofficial slogan “free college” is a heckuva misnomer. However, be it a modicum or a mountain, greed’s waltzing right along with ‘em. MSM is not progressive enough in their ambitions; they’re about 60% away from a tangential difference (you need at least a C- for it to count). So why keep at this failure of a movement? Because it will help them.
GIMME GIMME GIMME!
You’ve done it. You’ve forgone your potential job as a truck driver or freelance coder to attend Binghamton University. You have the financial stability to either comfortably take out loans or dip into your parents’ savings. There’s a movement going around, calling for Baxter to hand back the $6,470 you mailed him in August. If you succeed, college will be cheaper! Move into a shack on the Westside, and SUNY-B will practically be free! Dab a coat of inclusivity on your crusade and ride the social reform wave all the way to M&T Bank. MSM can claim everyone under the lackluster Binghamton sun as its benefactors. Ultimately, the real shareholders are the organizers themselves. MSM’s movement is not about opening up college to the less fortunate. MSM wants someone else to foot a small part of a bill they could’ve paid just as well themselves. Imagine college as a fancy dinner. “Hey all, let’s have Wall Street buy us appetizers! Say, why aren’t all those people outside coming into the steakhouse? J.P. Morgan’s covering the post-dinner mints!” Gimme, gimme, gimme free tuition. But hey, it’s not just for me.
WHO GETS THE BILL?
Mark the 19 year old waiter. Lauren the 20 year old entrepreneur. Sally, 22, unemployed. While the members of MSM slip more spending money into their pockets, the very people MSM purports to represent foot the cost. Mark, Lauren, and Sally didn’t even notice the difference when Binghamton went on sale for 88% MSRP. These people had to work to survive right out of high school, and now they’re paying extra because some rich kids wanted free stuff. Even by targeting the wealthy, MSM’s payment proposals will devastate the bottom bracket. The owner of Mark’s restaurant shuts down when her marginal tax rate skyrockets. She doesn’t see a point of staying open when the government takes 90% of every dollar she makes for the rest of year. Lauren and Sally watch their meager retirement savings plummet when stock activity falls. Even a $0.05 tax will cause a problem. There’s a reason that the MSM’s campaign happens exclusively on college campuses. MSM will only uplift the people who are fortunate enough to attend college in the first place.
A SOLEMN CONCLUSION
While MSM’s intentions may be unclear, the organization’s policy of subsidized tuition is unabashedly selfish. Entitled current university students want someone else to pay a small percentage of the true costs of college. Subsidized tuition would put extra spending money in the pockets of those who definitely don’t need it. The policy steals away from the underprivileged Americans MSM claims to help. Stop begging for more advantages. Start considering the effects your unsound demands have. And, ultimately, if you’re serious about getting, true-blue, real deal, free college education, well. . .
THE RESERVE OFFICERS’ TRAINING CORPS (ROTC) IS IN LIBRARY NORTH
Quit your whining and give ‘em a chance!