We’re still paying for this?

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College graduates are facing a crippling amount of debt.  Photo by    Pepi Stojanovski    on    Unsplash   . Thumbnail photo by    Colin Watts    on    Unsplash   .

College graduates are facing a crippling amount of debt. Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash. Thumbnail photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash.

I hope I’m not alone in my confusion. We spent our childhoods getting good grades, being community leaders and staying out of (legal) trouble. Furthermore, we went through the arduous process of applying to college, after sorting through dozens of brand-name schools. We took our passion for learning and creation to the next, more rigorous level. We at least did everything in our academic lives, right. We did what our parents, teachers, pop culture, and the remainder of society told us to do. And look how we have been rewarded. With a lifetime of debt.  

This is serious. This is not something that a six-figure job you receive immediately upon graduation will whisk away. This is a weight which will press down upon our backs long after it is paid. This debt will prevent us from owning homes and even renting. It will prevent us from pursuing higher education beyond our undergraduate studies. It will prevent us from affording lifesaving medical care. In some of these cases, it will literally kill us. Nice, right? 

There is a profound moral, psychological and systemic sickness in any culture which allows this to happen. But this leprous practice being socially acceptable does not exempt our school, which repeatedly approves and complacently watches as tuition, textbooks and housing increase in cost. Anyone in a position of power allowing students to bear this burden is a criminal. Our livelihoods are at stake here, and the people who rely on our academic and financial sacrifices to stay in power really couldn’t care less. There are real barriers outside of Storrs, CT to us having an affordable education. We need a school administration with incentives and responsibilities to fight for our interests, not one that idly stands by in the face of our suffering.  

There is this unspoken belief we have that the powerful people in society are such because they deserve it, because they are truly better than us, or because they did something extraordinary to get where they are. None of that is true. Powerful people in society are where they are because they are particularly good at exploiting the vulnerable and appropriating their social contributions. The very premise of power is accountable non-consensuality. The same exact reality exists here in Storrs where, despite our necessity otherwise, the administration of our school allows, prefers, and pursues our impoverishment. They are plundering the value we routinely provide to this campus and this society.  

We have, for too long, engaged with the school through petition. Our student representative institutions play such a tiny role in the overall operation of campus government. Wouldn’t it be a strange idea (hundreds or thousands of years old, depending on who you ask) for the government to be of, by, and for the people that it represented? The students?  

This is a long forgotten and suppressed truth: We are incredibly powerful. We are students, workers and most importantly, funding the entire school. We could collectively, at any moment, stop working on campus, stop attending class or stop paying tuition. These things sound delinquent, but they are real strategies which would constitute huge threats to the administration and ensure that they aren’t re-elected. Bodies in this position do everything they can to satisfy demands and return business to normal. The powerful, given the choice between less power and none at all, will ten out of ten times chose the former.  

The largest barrier to an affordable education, and whatever else we overwhelmingly agree upon? Our failure to understand and enforce our shared interest as the student class here on campus. Our failure to organize into a single body with which to communicate our demands. Our inaction.  


Harrison Raskin is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at harrison.raskin@uconn.edu.

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