College Is Wildly Exploitative: Why Aren’t Students Raising Hell?

Yves here. In May, we wrote up and embedded the report on how NYU exploits students and adjuncts in “The Art of the Gouge”: NYU as a Model for Predatory Higher Education. This article below uses that study as a point of departure for for its discussion of how higher education has become extractive.

By David Masciotra, the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky). He has also written for Salon, the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Review of Books. For more information visit www.davidmasciotra.com. Originally published at Alternet

Higher education wears the cloak of liberalism, but in policy and practice, it can be a corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation. It benefits immensely from right-wing McCarthy wannabes, who in an effort to restrict academic freedom and silence political dissent, depict universities as left-wing indoctrination centers.

But the reality is that while college administrators might affix “down with the man” stickers on their office doors, many prop up a system that is severely unfair to American students and professors, a shocking number of whom struggle to make ends meet. Even the most elementary level of political science instructs that politics is about power. Power, in America, is about money: who has it? Who does not have it? Who is accumulating it? Who is losing it? Where is it going?

Four hundred faculty members at New York University, one of the nation’s most expensive schools, recently released a report on how their own place of employment, legally a nonprofit institution, has become a predatory business, hardly any different in ethical practice or economic procedure than a sleazy storefront payday loan operator. Its title succinctly summarizes the new intellectual discipline deans and regents have learned to master: “The Art of The Gouge.”

The result of their investigation reads as if Charles Dickens and Franz Kafka collaborated on notes for a novel. Administrators not only continue to raise tuition at staggering rates, but they burden their students with inexplicable fees, high cost burdens and expensive requirements like mandatory study abroad programs. When students question the basis of their charges, much of them hidden during the enrollment and registration phases, they find themselves lost in a tornadic swirl of forms, automated answering services and other bureaucratic debris.

Often the additional fees add up to thousands of dollars, and that comes on top of the already hefty tuition, currently $46,000 per academic year, which is more than double its rate of 2001. Tuition at NYU is higher than most colleges, but a bachelor’s degree, nearly anywhere else, still comes with a punitive price tag. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2014–2015 school year was $31,231 at private colleges, $9,139 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,958 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

Robert Reich, in his book Supercapitalism, explains that in the past 30 years the two industries with the most excessive increases in prices are health care and higher education. Lack of affordable health care is a crime, Reich argues, but at least new medicines, medical technologies, surgeries, surgery techs, and specialists can partially account for inflation. Higher education can claim no costly infrastructural or operational developments to defend its sophisticated swindle of American families. It is a high-tech, multifaceted, but old fashioned transfer of wealth from the poor, working- and middle-classes to the rich.

Using student loan loot and tax subsidies backed by its $3.5 billion endowment, New York University has created a new administrative class of aristocratic compensation. The school not only continues to hire more administrators – many of whom the professors indict as having no visible value in improving the education for students bankrupting themselves to register for classes – but shamelessly increases the salaries of the academic administrative class. The top 21 administrators earn a combined total of $23,590,794 per year. The NYU portfolio includes many multi-million-dollar mansions and luxury condos, where deans and vice presidents live rent-free.

Meanwhile, NYU has spent billions, over the past 20 years, on largely unnecessary real estate projects, buying property and renovating buildings throughout New York. The professors’ analysis, NYU’s US News and World Report Ranking, and student reviews demonstrate that few of these extravagant projects, aimed mostly at pleasing wealthy donors, attracting media attention, and giving administrators opulent quarters, had any impact on overall educational quality.

As the managerial class grows, in size and salary, so does the full time faculty registry shrink. Use of part time instructors has soared to stratospheric heights at NYU. Adjunct instructors, despite having a minimum of a master’s degree and often having a Ph.D., receive only miserly pay-per-course compensation for their work, and do not receive benefits. Many part-time college instructors must transform their lives into daily marathons, running from one school to the next, barely able to breathe between commutes and courses. Adjunct pay varies from school to school, but the average rate is $2,900 per course.

Many schools offer rates far below the average, most especially community colleges paying only $1,000 to $1,500. Even at the best paying schools, adjuncts, as part time employees, are rarely eligible for health insurance and other benefits. Many universities place strict limits on how many courses an instructor can teach. According to a recent study, 25 percent of adjuncts receive government assistance.

The actual scandal of “The Art of the Gouge” is that even if NYU is a particularly egregious offender of basic decency and honesty, most of the report’s indictments could apply equally to nearly any American university. From 2003-2013, college tuition increased by a crushing 80 percent. That far outpaces all other inflation. The closest competitor was the cost of medical care, which in the same time period, increased by a rate of 49 percent. On average, tuition in America rises eight percent on an annual basis, placing it far outside the moral universe. Most European universities charge only marginal fees for attendance, and many of them are free. Senator Bernie Sanders recently introduced a bill proposing all public universities offer free education. It received little political support, and almost no media coverage.

In order to obtain an education, students accept the paralytic weight of student debt, the only form of debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Before a young person can even think about buying a car, house or starting a family, she leaves college with thousands of dollars in debt: an average of $29,400 in 2012. As colleges continue to suck their students dry of every dime, the US government profits at $41.3 billion per year by collecting interest on that debt. Congress recently cut funding for Pell Grants, yet increased the budget for hiring debt collectors to target delinquent student borrowers.

The university, once an incubator of ideas and entrance into opportunity, has mutated into a tabletop model of America’s economic architecture, where the top one percent of income earners now owns 40 percent of the wealth.

“The One Percent at State U,” an Institute for Policy Studies report, found that at the 25 public universities with the highest paid presidents, student debt and adjunct faculty increased at dramatically higher rates than at the average state university. Marjorie Wood, the study’s co-author, explained told the New York Times that extravagant executive pay is the “tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.

Unfortunately, students seem like passive participants in their own liquidation. An American student protest timeline for 2014-’15, compiled by historian Angus Johnston, reveals that most demonstrations and rallies focused on police violence, and sexism. Those issues should inspire vigilance and activism, but only 10 out of 160 protests targeted tuition hikes for attack, and only two of those 10 events took place outside the state of California.

Class consciousness and solidarity actually exist in Chile, where in 2011 a student movement began to organize, making demands for free college. More than mere theater, high school and college students, along with many of their parental allies, engaged the political system and made specific demands for inexpensive education. The Chilean government announced that in March 2016, it will eliminate all tuition from public universities. Chile’s victory for participatory democracy, equality of opportunity and social justice should instruct and inspire Americans. Triumph over extortion and embezzlement is possible.

This seems unlikely to happen in a culture, however, where even most poor Americans view themselves, in the words of John Steinbeck, as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The political, educational and economic ruling class of America is comfortable selling out its progeny. In the words of one student quoted in “The Art of the Gouge,” “they see me as nothing more than $200,000.”

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80 comments

  1. washunate

    Awesome question in the headline.

    At a basic level, I think the answer is because on balance, college still provides a lot of privatized value to the individual. Being an exploited student with the College Credential Seal of Approval remains relatively much better than being an exploited non student lacking that all important seal. A college degree, for example, is practically a guarantee of avoiding the more unseemly parts of the US “justice” system.

    But I think this is changing. The pressure is building from the bottom as academia loses credibility as an institution capable of, never mind interested in, serving the public good rather than simply being another profit center for connected workers. It’s actually a pretty exciting time. The kiddos are getting pretty fed up, and the authoritarians at the top of the hierarchy are running out of money with which to buy off younger technocratic enablers and thought leaders and other Serious People.

    1. H. Alexander Ivey

      Stop. Just stop it. Your comment is pure BS. You either have not read the surrounding postings – do your homework before you come to class, student, or you are simply a troll.

      What’s wrong, you ask? Your entire tone is wrong, that’s what.

      “Awesome question in the headline.” – a nice response to a quick aside, but to start a posting thread with “awesome” looks “cute”, not serious.

      “At a basic level” – the post is not about a basic level of any thing. You right away shift the focus.

      “college still provides a lot of privatized value to the individual.” – haha, loved the fad word, privatized. Totally incorrect meaning of the word, which means converting the means of production of goods and services to the production of money only. Or you applied it to the wrong people, it is not the student who is privatized, it is the education system that moves the money to the administration and marketing people.

      ” Being an exploited student with the College Credential Seal of Approval remains relatively much better than being an exploited non student lacking that all important seal.” – I guess there exists a “College Credential Seal of Approval”, but which college issues one? Most colleges and university issue diplomas, not improperly capitalised noun phrases.

      “A college degree, for example, is practically a guarantee of avoiding the more unseemly parts of the US “justice” system.” – got any facts to back this up? I suspect what keeps most people out of the US “justice” system is the money in their pocket or the tone of their skin – not the level of their education. But a nice play on keeping up the division between college and non-college people.

      “The pressure is building from the bottom” – the posting makes it clear that the bottom, students, are not putting up much push-back.

      “as academia loses credibility as an institution capable of, never mind interested in, serving the public good” – who said college is to serve the public good? Colleges used to serve many functions, and the public good was not one of the top ones. Few people use to go to college to serve some public good.

      “rather than simply being another profit center for connected workers.” – again mixing psuedo-business concepts. Admin staff and marketing is not a profit center, they are a cost center. And connected workers? How is the idea of “connected”, of being in the upper echelons of society, linked to being a “worker”, a lower rung peon?

      “It’s actually a pretty exciting time. The kiddos are getting pretty fed up, and the authoritarians at the top of the hierarchy are running out of money with which to buy off younger technocratic enablers and thought leaders and other Serious People.” – there is nothing nice or positive about this time. “The kiddos” are people being seriously hurt. And the authoritarians are not running out of money to buy off those they want.

      1. washunate

        I’m not sure you’re familiar with the NC commenting system? The first comment appears at the top. So, no, I did not read any other comments when I left this one.

    2. Chris

      Same old lies the establishment puts out. You study hard, go on to get a degree at college or uni and the student gets all the benefit. So why should society pay?

      Because most of the benefit is a public one and well educated countries provide much better standards of living, to everyone, not just those who choose to go to college.

      That’s why it should be free. User pays my arse

      1. washunate

        That’s exactly where I disagree. Most of the benefit of the big universities as they currently exist accrues to the workers and the students, not the public.

  2. washunate

    P.S., the author in this post demonstrates the very answer to the question. He assumes as true, without any need for support, that the very act of possessing a college degree makes one worthy of a better place in society. That mindset is why colleges can prey upon students. They hold a monopoly on access to resources in American society. My bold:

    Adjunct instructors, despite having a minimum of a master’s degree and often having a Ph.D., receive only miserly pay-per-course compensation for their work, and do not receive benefits.

    What does having a masters degree or PhD have to do with the moral claim of all human beings to a life of dignity and purpose?

    1. flora

      There are so many more job seekers per job opening now than, say, 20 or thirty years ago that a degree is used to sort out applications. Now a job that formerly listed a high school degree as a requirement may now list a college degree as a requirement, just to cut down on the number of applications.
      So, no, a B.A. or B.S. doesn’t confer moral worth, but it does open more job doors than a high school diploma, even if the actual work only requires high school level math, reading, science or technology.

    2. Ben

      I agree a phd often makes someone no more useful in society. However the behaviour of the kids is rational *because* employers demand a masters / phd.

      Students are then caught in a trap. Employers demand the paper, often from an expensive institution. The credit is abundant thanks to govt backed loans. They are caught in a situation where as a collective it makes no sense to join in, but as an individual if they opt out they get hurt also.

      Same deal for housing. It’s a mad world my masters.

      What can we do about this? The weak link in the chain seems to me to be employers. Why are they hurting themselves by selecting people who want higher pay but may offer little to no extra value? I work as a programmer and I often think ” if we could just ‘see’ the non-graduate diamonds in the rough”.

      If employers had perfect knowledge of prospective employees *and* if they saw that a degree would make no difference to their performance universities would crumble overnight.

      The state will never stop printing money via student loans. If we can fix recruitment then universities are dead.

      1. washunate

        Why are they hurting themselves by selecting people who want higher pay but may offer little to no extra value?

        Yeah, I have thought a lot about that particular question of organizational behavior. It does make sense, conceptually, that somebody would disrupt the system and take people based on ability rather than credentials. Yet we are moving in the opposite direction, toward more rigidity in educational requirements for employment.

        For my two cents, I think the bulk of the answer lies in how hiring specifically, and management philosophy more generally, works in practice. The people who make decisions are themselves also subject to someone else’s decisions. This is true all up and down the hierarchical ladder, from board members and senior executives to the most junior managers and professionals.

        It’s true that someone without a degree may offer the same (or better) performance to the company. But they do not offer the same performance to the people making decisions, because those individual people also depend upon their own college degrees to sell their own labor services. To hire significant numbers of employees without degrees into important roles is to sabotage their own personal value.

        Very few people are willing to be that kind of martyr. And generally speaking, they tend to self-select away from occupations where they can meaningfully influence decision-making processes in large organizations.

        Absolutely, individual business owners can call BS on the whole scam. It is a way that individual people can take action against systemic oppression. Hire workers based upon their fit for the job, not their educational credentials or criminal background or skin color or sexual orientation or all of the other tests we have used. But that’s not a systemic solution because the incentives created by public policy are overwhelming at large organizations to restrict who is ‘qualified’ to fill the good jobs (and increasingly, even the crappy jobs).

      2. Laaughingsong

        I am not so sure that this is so. So many jobs are now crapified. When I was made redundant in 2009, I could not find many jobs that fit my level of experience (just experience! I have no college degree), so I applied for anything that fit my skill set, pretty much regardless of level. I was called Overqualified. I have heard that in the past as well, but never more so during that stretch of job hunting. Remember that’s with no degree. Maybe younger people don’t hear it as much. But I also think life experience has something to do with it, you need to have something to compare it to. How many times did our parents tell us how different things were when they were kids, how much easier? I didn’t take that on board, did y’all?

      3. tsk

        For various reasons, people seeking work these days, especially younger job applicants, might not possess the habits of mind and behavior that would make them good employees–i.e., punctuality, the willingness to come to work every day (even when something more fun or interesting comes up, or when one has partied hard the night before), the ability to meet deadlines rather than make excuses for not meeting them, the ability to write competently at a basic level, the ability to read instructions, diagrams, charts, or any other sort of necessary background material, the ability to handle basic computation, the ability to FOLLOW instructions rather than deciding that one will pick and choose which rules and instructions to follow and which to ignore, trainability, etc.

        Even if a job applicant’s degree is in a totally unrelated field, the fact that he or she has managed to complete an undergraduate degree–or, if relevant, a master’s or a doctorate–is often accepted by employers as a sign that the applicant has a sense of personal responsibility, a certain amount of diligence and educability, and a certain level of basic competence in reading, writing, and math.

        By the same token, employers often assume that an applicant who didn’t bother going to college or who couldn’t complete a college degree program is probably not someone to be counted on to be a responsible, trainable, competent employee.

        Obviously those who don’t go to college, or who go but drop out or flunk out, end up disadvantaged when competing for jobs, which might not be fair at all in individual cases, especially now that college has been priced so far out of the range of so many bright, diligent students from among the poor and and working classes, and now even those from the middle class.

        Nevertheless, in general an individual’s ability to complete a college degree is not an unreasonable stand-in as evidence of that person’s suitability for employment.

      4. Roland

        Nicely put, Ben.

        Students are first caught in a trap of “credentials inflation” needed to obtain jobs, then caught by inflation in education costs, then stuck with undischargeable debt. And the more of them who get the credentials, the worse the credentials inflation–a spiral.

        It’s all fuelled by loose credit. The only beneficiaries are a managerial elite who enjoy palatial facilities.

        As for the employers, they’re not so bad off. Wages are coming down for credentialled employees due to all the competition. There is such a huge stock of degreed applicants that they can afford to ignore anyone who isn’t. The credentials don’t cost the employer–they’re not spending the money, nor are they lending the money.

        Modern money makes it possible for the central authorities to keep this racket going all the way up to the point of general systemic collapse. Why should they stop? Who’s going to make them stop?

  3. Bobbo

    The only reason the universities can get away with it is easy money. When the time comes that students actually need to pay tuition with real money, money they or their parents have actually saved, then college tuition rates will crash back down to earth. Don’t blame the universities. This is the natural and inevitable outcome of easy money.

    1. Jim

      Yes, college education in the US is a classic example of the effects of subsidies. Eliminate the subsidies and the whple education bubble would rapidily implode.

    2. washunate

      I’m very curious if anyone will disagree with that assessment.

      An obvious commonality across higher education, healthcare, housing, criminal justice, and national security is that we spend huge quantities of public money yet hold the workers receiving that money to extremely low standards of accountability for what they do with it.

      1. tegnost

        Correct, it’s not the universities, it’s the culture that contains the universities, but the universities are training grounds for the culture so it is the universities just not only the universities… Been remembering the song from my college days “my futures so bright i gotta wear shades”. getting rich was the end in itself, and people who didn’t make it didn’t deserve anything but a whole lot of student debt,creating perverse incentives. And now we all know what the A in type a stands for…at least among those who self identify as such, so yes it is the universities

        1. Chris in Paris

          I don’t understand why the ability to accept guaranteed loan money doesn’t come with an obligation by the school to cap tuition at a certain percentage over maximum loan amount? Would that be so hard to institute?

          1. Ben

            Student loans are debt issuance. Western states are desperate to issue debt as it’s fungible with money and marked down as growth.

            Borrow 120K over 3 years and it all gets paid into university coffers and reappears as “profit” now. Let some other president deal with low disposable income due to loan repayments. It’s in a different electoral cycle – perfect.

      2. jrd2

        You can try to argue, but it will be hard to refute. If you give mortgages at teaser rates to anybody who can fog a mirror, you get a housing bubble. If you give student loans to any student without regard to the prospects of that student paying back the loan, you get a higher education bubble. Which will include private equity trying to catch as much of this money as they possibly can by investing in for profit educational institutions just barely adequate to benefit from federal student loan funds.

        1. jrs

          A lot of background conditions help. It helps to pump a housing bubble if there’s nothing else worth investing in (including saving money at zero interest rates). It helps pump an education bubble if most of the jobs have been outsourced so people are competing more and more for fewer and fewer.

      3. Beans

        I don’t disagree with the statement that easy money has played the biggest role in jacking up tuition. I do strongly disagree that we shouldn’t “blame” the universities. The universities are exactly where we should place the blame. The universities have become job training grounds, and yet continue to droll on and on about the importance of noble things like liberal education, the pursuit of knowledge, the importance of ideas, etc. They cannot have it both ways. Years ago, when tuition rates started escalating faster than inflation, the universities should have been the loudest critics – pointing out the cultural problems that would accompany sending the next generation into the future deeply indebted – namely that all the noble ideas learned at the university would get thrown out the window when financial reality forced recent graduates to chose between noble ideas and survival. If universities truly believed that a liberal education was important; that the pursuit of knowledge benefitted humanity – they should have led the charge to hold down tuition.

        1. washunate

          I took it to mean blame as in what allows the system to function. I heartily agree that highly paid workers at universities bear blame for what they do (and don’t do) at a granular level.

          It’s just that they couldn’t do those things without the system handing them gobs of resources, from tax deductability of charitable contributions to ignoring anti-competitive behavior in local real estate ownership to research grants and other direct funding to student loans and other indirect funding.

          1. Jim

            Regarding blaming “highly paid workers at universities” – If a society creates incentives for dysfunctional behavior such a society will have a lot of dysfunction. Eliminate the subsidies and see how quicly the educational bubble pops.

        2. James Levy

          You are ignoring the way that the rich bid up the cost of everything. 2% of the population will pay whatever the top dozen or so schools will charge so that little Billy or Sue can go to Harvard or Stanford. This leads to cost creep as the next tier ratchet up their prices in lock step with those above them, etc. The same dynamic happens with housing, at least around wealthy metropolitan areas.

      4. daniel

        Hi to you two,

        A European perspective on this: yep, that’s true on an international perspective. I belong to the ugly list of those readers of this blog who do not fully share the liberal values of most of you hear. However, may I say that I can agree on a lot of stuff.

        US education and health-care are outrageously costly. Every European citizen moving to the states has a question: will he or she be sick whilst there. Every European parent with kids in higher education is aware that having their kids for one closing year in the US is the more they can afford (except if are a banquier d’affaires…). Is the value of the US education good? No doubt! Is is good value for money, of course not. Is the return on the money ok? It will prove disastrous, except if the USD crashed. The main reason? Easy money. As for any kind of investment. Remember that this is indeed a investment plan…

        Check the level of revenues of “public sector” teaching staff on both sides of the ponds. The figure for US professionals in these area are available on the Web. They are indeed much more costly than, say, North-of-Europe counterparts, “public sector” professionals in those area. Is higher education in the Netherlands sub-par when compared to the US? Of course not.

        Yep financing education via the Fed (directly or not) is not only insanely costly. Just insane. The only decent solution: set up public institutions staffed with service-minded professionals that did not have to pay an insane sum to build up the curriculum themselves.

        Are “public services” less efficient than private ones here in those area, health-care and higher education. Yep, most certainly. But, sure, having the fed indirectly finance the educational system just destroy any competitive savings made in building a competitive market-orientated educational system and is one of the worst way to handle your educational system.

        Yep, you can do a worst use of the money, subprime or China buildings… But that’s all about it.

        US should forget about exceptionnalism and pay attention to what North of Europe is doing in this area. Mind you, I am Southerner (of Europe). But of course I understand that trying to run these services on a federal basis is indeed “mission impossible”.

        Way to big! Hence the indirect Washington-decided Wall-Street-intermediated Fed-and-deficit-driven financing of higher education. Mind you: we have more and more of this bankers meddling in education in Europe and I do not like what I see.

      5. John Zelnicker

        @washunate – 6/26/15, 11:03 am. I know I’m late to the party, but I disagree. It’s not the workers, it’s the executives and management generally. Just like Wall Street, many of these top administrators have perfected the art of failing upwards.

        IMNSHO everyone needs to stop blaming labor and/or the labor unions. It’s not the front line workers, teachers, retail clerks, adjunct instructors, all those people who do the actual work rather than managing other people. Those workers have no bargaining power, and the unions have lost most of theirs, in part due to the horrible labor market, as well as other important reasons.

        We have demonized virtually all of the government workers who actually do the work that enables us to even have a government (all levels) and to provide the services we demand, such as public safety, education, and infrastructure. These people are our neighbors, relatives and friends; we owe them better than this.

        /end of rant

        1. Roland

          Unionized support staff at Canadian universities have had sub-inflation wage increases for nearly 20 years, while tuition has been rising at triple the rate of inflation.

          So obviously one can’t blame the unions for rising education costs.

        2. washunate

          Those are workers. You are describing people who are paid for their labor.

          And a significant chunk of the top 20% of the workforce (especially the top 10%) are paid directly or supported indirectly by public expenditures and tax breaks and other public policy.

    3. Adam Eran

      Omitted from this account: Federal funding for education has declined 55% since 1972. … Part of the Powell memo’s agenda.

      It’s understandable too; one can hardly blame legislators for punishing the educational establishment given the protests of the ’60s and early ’70s… After all, they were one reason Nixon and Reagan rose to power. How dare they propose real democracy! Harumph!

      To add to students’ burden, there’s the recent revision of bankruptcy law: student loans can no longer be retired by bankruptcy (Thanks Hillary!)…It’ll be interesting to see whether Hillary’s vote on that bankruptcy revision becomes a campaign issue.

      I also wonder whether employers will start to look for people without degrees as an indication they were intelligent enough to sidestep this extractive scam.

      1. washunate

        I’d be curious what you count as federal funding. Pell grants, for example, have expanded both in terms of the number of recipients and the amount of spending over the past 3 – 4 decades.

        More generally, federal support for higher ed comes in a variety of forms. The bankruptcy law you mention is itself a form of federal funding. Tax exemption is another. Tax deductabiliity of contributions is another. So are research grants and exemptions from anti-competitive laws and so forth. There are a range of individual tax credits and deductions. The federal government also does not intervene in a lot of state supports, such as licensing practices in law and medicine that make higher ed gatekeepers to various fiefdoms and allowing universities to take fees for administering (sponsoring) charter schools. The Federal Work-Study program is probably one of the clearest specific examples of a program that offers both largely meaningless busy work and terrible wages.

        As far as large employers seeking intelligence, I’m not sure that’s an issue in the US? Generally speaking, the point of putting a college credential in a job requirement is precisely to find people participating in the ‘scam’. If an employer is genuinely looking for intelligence, they don’t have minimum educational requirements.

    4. different clue

      Why would tuition rates come down when students need to pay with “real money, money they or their parents have actually saved. . . ” ? Didn’t tuition at state universities begin climbing when state governments began boycotting state universities in terms of embargoing former rates of taxpayer support to them? Leaving the state universities to try making up the difference by raising tuition? If people want to limit or reduce the tuition charged to in-state students of state universities, people will have to resume paying former rates of taxes and elect people to state government to re-target those taxes back to state universities the way they used to do before the reductions in state support to state universities.

  4. Jesper

    Protest against exploitation and risk being black-listed by exploitative employers -> Only employers left are the ones who actually do want (not pretend to want) ethical people willing to stand up for what they believe in. Not many of those kind of employers around…. What is the benefit? What are the risks?

    1. Tammy

      What is the benefit? What are the risks?
      I am not a progressive, yet, there is always risk for solidary progress.

  5. Andrew

    The author misrepresents the nature and demands of Chile’s student movement.

    Over the past few decades, university enrollment rates for Chileans expanded dramatically in part due to the creation of many private universities. In Chile, public universities lead the pack in terms of academic reputation and entrance is determined via competitive exams. As a result, students from poorer households who attended low-quality secondary schools generally need to look at private universities to get a degree. And these are the students to which the newly created colleges catered to.

    According to Chilean legislation, universities can only function as non-profit entities. However, many of these new institutions were only nominally non-profit entities (for example, the owners of the university would also set up a real estate company that would rent the facilities to the college at above market prices) and they were very much lacking in quality. After a series of high-profile cases of universities that were open and shut within a few years leaving its students in limbo and debt, anger mounted over for-profit education.

    The widespread support of the student movement was due to generalized anger about and education system that is dearly lacking in quality and to the violation of the spirit of the law regulating education. Once the student movement’s demands became more specific and morphed from opposing for profit institutions to demanding free tuition for everyone, the widespread support waned quickly.

    And while the government announced free tuition in public universities, there is a widespread consensus that this is a pretty terrible idea as it is regressive and involves large fiscal costs. In particular because most of the students that attend public universities come from relatively wealthy households that can afford tuition. The students that need the tuition assistance will not benefit under the new rules.

    I personally benefited from the fantastically generous financial aid systems that some private American universities have set up which award grants and scholarships based on financial need only. And I believe that it is desirable for the State to guarantee that any qualified student has access to college regardless of his or her wealth I think that by romanticizing the Chilean student movement the author reveals himself to be either is dishonest or, at best, ignorant.

  6. The Insider

    Students aren’t protesting because they don’t feel the consequences until they graduate.

    One thing that struck me when I applied for a student loan a few years back to help me get through my last year of graduate school – the living expense allocation was surprisingly high. Not “student sharing an apartment with five random dudes while eating ramen and riding the bus”, but more “living alone in a nice one-bedroom apartment while eating takeout and driving a car”. Apocryphal stories of students using their student loans to buy new cars or take extravagant vacations were not impossible to believe.

    The living expense portion of student loans is often so generous that students can live relatively well while going to school, which makes it that much easier for them to push to the backs of their minds the consequences that will come from so much debt when they graduate. Consequently, it isn’t the students who are complaining – it’s the former students. But by the time they are out of school and the university has their money in its pocket, it’s too late for them to try and change the system.

    1. lord koos

      I’m sure many students are simply happy to be in college… the ugly truth hits later.

    2. optimader

      http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/education/compete-students-colleges-roll-out-amenities

      Sophomore Noell Conley lives there, too. She shows off the hotel-like room she shares with a roommate.

      “As you walk in, to the right you see our granite countertops with two sinks, one for each of the residents,” she says.

      A partial wall separates the beds. Rather than trek down the hall to shower, they share a bathroom with the room next door.

      “That’s really nice compared to community bathrooms that I lived in last year,” Conley says.

      To be fair, granite countertops last longer. Tempur-Pedic is a local company — and gave a big discount. The amenities include classrooms and study space that are part of the dorm. Many of the residents are in the university’s Honors program. But do student really need Apple TV in the lounges, or a smartphone app that lets them check their laundry status from afar?

      “Demand has been very high,” says the university’s Penny Cox, who is overseeing the construction of several new residence halls on campus. Before Central Hall’s debut in August, the average dorm was almost half a century old, she says. That made it harder to recruit.

      If you visit places like Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama,” Cox says, “and you compare what we had with what they have available to offer, we were very far behind.”

      Today colleges are competing for a more discerning consumer. Students grew up with fewer siblings, in larger homes, Cox says. They expect more privacy than previous generations — and more comforts.

      “These days we seem to be bringing kids up to expect a lot of material plenty,” says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of the book “Generation Me.”

      Those students could be in for some disappointment when they graduate, she says.

      “When some of these students have all these luxuries and then they get an entry-level job and they can’t afford the enormous flat screen and the granite countertops,” Twenge says, “then that’s going to be a rude awakening.”

      Some on campus also worry about the divide between students who can afford such luxuries and those who can’t. The so-called premium dorms cost about $1,000 more per semester. Freshman Josh Johnson, who grew up in a low-income family and lives in one of the university’s 1960s-era buildings, says the traditional dorm is good enough for him.

      “I wouldn’t pay more just to live in a luxury dorm,” he says. “It seems like I could just pay the flat rate and get the dorm I’m in. It’s perfectly fine.”

      In the near future students who want to live on campus won’t have a choice. Eventually the university plans to upgrade all of its residence halls.

      So I wonder who on average will fair better navigating the post-college lifestyle/job market reality check, Noell or Josh? Personally, I would bet on the Joshes living in the 60’s vintage enamel painted ciderblock dorm rooms.

      1. optimader

        Universities responding to the market

        http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/08/29/10-Public-Colleges-with-Insanely-Luxurious-Dorms

        Competition for students who have more sophisticated tastes than in past years is creating the perfect environment for schools to try to outdo each other with ever-more posh on-campus housing. Keeping up in the luxury dorm race is increasingly critical to a school’s bottom line: A 2006 study published by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers found that “poorly maintained or inadequate residential facilities” was the number-one reason students rejected enrolling at institutions.

        PHOTO GALLERY: Click Here to See the 10 Schools with Luxury Dorms

        Private universities get most of the mentions on lists of schools with great dorms, as recent ratings by the Princeton Review, College Prowler, and Campus Splash make clear. But a few state schools that have invested in brand-new facilities are starting to show up on those reviews, too.

        While many schools offer first dibs on the nicest digs to upperclassmen on campus, as the war for student dollars ratchets up even first-year students at public colleges are living in style. Here are 10 on-campus dormitories at state schools that offer students resort-like amenities.

      2. Carla

        My money’s on Josh, too. He’s the one I’d rather know, live next door to, work with, hire, have my daughter go out with…etc.

    3. Jerry Denim

      Bingo! They don’t get really mad until they’re in their early thirties and they are still stuck doing some menial job with no vacation time, no health insurance and a monstrous mountain of debt. Up until that point they’re still working hard waiting for their ship to come in and blaming themselves for any lack of success like Steinbeck’s ’embarrassed millionaires.’ Then one day maybe a decade after they graduate they realize they’ve been conned but they’ve got bills to pay and other problems to worry about so they solider on. 18 year-olds are told by their high school guidance councilors, their parents and all of the adults they trust that college while expensive is a good investment and the only way to succeed. Why should they argue? They don’t know any better yet.

    4. different clue

      Perhaps some students are afraid to protest for fear of being photographed or videographed and having their face and identity given to every prospective employer throughout America. Perhaps those students are afraid of being blackballed throughout the Great American Workplace if they are caught protesting anything on camera.

      Today isn’t like the sixties when you could drop out in the confidence that you could always drop back in again. Nowadays there are ten limpets for every scar on the rock.

  7. seabos84

    the average is such a worthless number. The Data we need, and which all these parasitic professional managerial types won’t provide –
    x axis would be family income, by $5000 increments.
    y axis would be the median debt level
    we could get fancy, and also throw in how many kids are in school in each of those income increments.

    BTW – this 55 yr. old troglodyte believes that 1 of the roles (note – I did NOT say “The Role”) of education is preparing people to useful to society. 300++ million Americans, 7 billion humans – we ALL need shelter, reliable and safe food, reliable and safe water, sewage disposal, clothing, transportation, education, sick care, power, leisure, … we should ALL have access to family wage jobs and time for BBQs with our various communities several times a year. I know plenty of techno-dweebs here in Seattle who need to learn some of the lessons of 1984, The Prince, and Shakespeare. I know plenty of fuzzies who could be a bit more useful with some rudimentary skills in engineering, or accounting, or finance, or stats, or bio, or chem …
    I don’t know what the current education system is providing, other than some accidental good things for society at large, and mainly mechanisms for the para$ite cla$$e$ to stay parasites.

    rmm.

    1. Adam Eran

      Mao was perfectly content to promote technical education in the new China. What he deprecated (and fought to suppress) was the typical liberal arts notion of critical thinking. We’re witnessing something comparable in the U.S.

      This suppression in China led to an increase in Mao’s authority (obviously), but kept him delusional. For example, because China relied on Mao’s agricultural advice, an estimated 70 million Chinese died during peacetime. But who else was to be relied upon as an authority?

      Back the the U.S.S.A. (the United StateS of America): One Australian says of the American system: “You Yanks don’t consult the wisdom of democracy; you enable mobs.”

      1. Tammy

        Mao was perfectly content to promote technical education in the new China. What he deprecated (and fought to suppress) was the typical liberal arts notion of critical thinking. We’re witnessing something comparable in the U.S. We’re witnessing something comparable in the U.S.

        Mao liked chaos because he believed in continuous revolution. I would argue what we’re experiencing is nothing comparable to what China experienced. (I hope I’ve understood you correctly.)

  8. Ted

    I am pretty sure a tradition of protest to affect political change in the US is a rather rare bird. Most people “protest” by changing their behavior. As an example, by questioning the value of the 46,000 local private college tuition as opposed the the 15k and 9k tiered state college options. My daughter is entering the freshman class next year, we opted for the cheaper state option because, in the end, a private school degree adds nothing, unless it is to a high name recognition institution. I think, like housing, a downstream consequence of “the gouge” is not to question — much less understand — class relations, but to assess the value of the lifetyle choice once you are stuck with the price of paying for that lifestyle in the form of inflated debt repayments. Eventually “the folk” figure it out and encourage cheaper alternatives toward the same goal.

    1. Jim

      There’s probably little point in engaging in political protest. Most people maximise their chances of success by focusing on variables over which they have some degree of control. The ability of most people to have much effect on the overall political-economic system is slight and any returns from political activity are highly uncertain.

      1. jrs

        How does anyone even expect to maintain cheap available state options without political activity? By wishful thinking I suppose?

        The value of a private school might be graduating sooner, state schools are pretty overcrowded, but that may not at all be worth the debt (I doubt it almost ever is on a purely economic basis).

        1. RabidGandhi

          Maybe if we just elect the right people with cool posters and a hopey changey slogan, they’ll take care of everything for us and we won’t have to be politically active.

      2. jrs

        Of course refusal to engage politically because the returns to oneself by doing so are small really IS the tragedy of the commons. Thus one might say it’s ethical to engage politically in order to avoid it. Some ethical action focuses on overcoming tragedy of the commons dilemmas. Of course the U.S. system being what it is I have a hard time blaming anyone for giving up.

  9. chairman

    The middle class, working class and poor have no voice in politics or policy at all, and they don’t know what’s going on until it’s too late. They’ve been pushed by all their high school staff that college is the only acceptable option — and often it is. What else are they going to do out of high school, work a 30 hour a week minimum wage retail job? The upper middle class and rich, who entirely monopolize the media, don’t have any reason to care about skyrocketing college tuition — their parents are paying for it anyway. They’d rather write about the hip and trendy issues of the day, like trigger warnings.

    1. Fool

      To the contrary, they’re hardly advised by “their high school staff”; nonetheless, subway ads for Phoenix, Monroe, etc. have a significant influence.

  10. collegestudent

    Speaking as one of these college students, I think that a large part of the reason that the vast majority of students are just accepting the tuition rates is because it has become the societal norm. Growing up I can remember people saying “You need to go to college to find a good job.” Because a higher education is seen as a necessity for most people, students think of tuition as just another form of taxes, acceptable and inevitable, which we will expect to get a refund on later in life.

  11. Pitchfork

    I teach at a “good” private university. Most of my students don’t have a clue as to how they’re being exploited. Many of the best students feel enormous pressure to succeed and have some inkling that their job prospects are growing narrower, but they almost universally accept this as the natural order of things. Their outlook: if there are 10 or 100 applicants for every available job, well, by golly, I just have to work that much harder and be the exceptional one who gets the job.

    Incoming freshmen were born in the late 90s — they’ve never known anything but widespread corruption, financial and corporate oligarchy, i-Pads and the Long Recession.

    But as other posters note, the moment of realization usually comes after four years of prolonged adolescence, luxury dorm living and excessive debt accumulation.

    1. Fool

      Most of my students don’t have a clue as to how they’re being exploited…

      Why not educate them?

      1. Tammy

        Most Ph.D.’s don’t either. I’d argue there have been times they have attempted to debate that exploitation is a good–for their employer and himself/herself–with linguistic games. Mind numbing… . To be fair, they have a job.

  12. Gottschee

    I have watched the tuition double–double!–at my alma mater in the last eleven years. During this period, administrators have set a goal of increasing enrollment by a third, and from what I hear, they’ve done so. My question is always this: where is the additional tuition money going? Because as I walk through the campus, I don’t really see that many improvements–yes, a new building, but that was supposedly paid for by donations and endowments. I don’t see new offices for these high-priced admin people that colleges are hiring, and in fact, what I do see is an increase in the number of part-time faculty and adjuncts. The tenured faculty is not prospering from all this increased revenue, either.

    I suspect the tuition is increasing so rapidly simply because the college can get away with it. And that means they are exploiting the students.

    While still a student, I once calculated that it cost me $27.00/hour to be in class. (15 weeks x 20 “contact hours” per week =
    300 hours/semester, $8000/semester divided by 300 hours = $27.00/hour). A crude calculation, certainly, but a starting point. I did this because I had an instructor who was consistently late to class, and often cancelled class, so much that he wiped out at least $300.00 worth of instruction. I had the gall to ask for a refund of that amount. I’m full of gall. Of course, I was laughed at, not just by the administrators, but also by some students.

    Just like medical care, education pricing is “soft,” that is, the price is what you are willing to pay. Desirable students get scholarships and stipends, which other students subsidize; similarly, some pre-ACA patients in hospitals were often treated gratis.

    Students AND hospital patients alike seem powerless to affect the contract with the provider. Reform will not likely be forthcoming, as students, like patients, are “just passing through.”

  13. Martin Finnucane

    Higher education wears the cloak of liberalism, but in policy and practice, it can be a corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation.

    I find the “but” in that sentence to be dissonant.

  14. Mark Anderson

    The tuition at most public universities has quadrupled or more over the last
    15 to 20 years precisely BECAUSE state government subsidies have been
    slashed in the meantime. I was told around 2005 that quadrupled tuition
    at the University of Minnesota made up for about half of the state money
    that the legislature had slashed from the university budget over the previous
    15 years.

    It is on top of that situation that university administrators are building themselves
    little aristocratic empires, very much modeled on the kingdoms of corporate CEOs
    where reducing expenses (cutting faculty) and services to customers (fewer classes,
    more adjuncts) is seen as the height of responsibility and accountability, perhaps
    even the definition of propriety.

  15. Jim

    Everyone should read the introductory chapter to David Graeber’s ” The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy.”

    In Chapter One of this book entitled “The Iron law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization” Graeber notes that the US has become the most rigidly credentialised society in the world where “…in field after field from nurses to art teachers, physical therapists, to foreign policy consultants, careers which used to be considered an art (best learned through doing) now require formal professional training and a certificate of completion.”

    Graeber, in that same chapter, makes another extremely important point. when he notes that career advancement in may large bureaucratic organizations demands a willingness to play along with the fiction that advancement is based on merit, even though most everyone know that this isn’t true.

    The structure of modern power in the U.S., in both the merging public and private sectors, is built around the false ideology of a giant credentialized meritorcracy rather than the reality of arbitrary extraction by predatory bureaucratic networks.

  16. armchair

    Anecdote: I was speaking to someone who recently started working at as a law school administrator at my alma mater. Enrollment is actually down at law schools (I believe), because word has spread about the lame legal job market. So, the school administration is watching its pennies, and the new administrator says the administrators aren’t getting to go on so many of the all expense paid conferences and junkets that they used to back in the heyday. As I hear this, I am thinking about how many of these awesome conferences in San Diego, New Orleans and New York that I’m paying back. Whatever happened to the metaphorical phrase: “when a pig becomes a hog, it goes to slaughter”?

    Another anecdote: I see my undergrad alma mater has demolished the Cold War era dorms on one part of campus and replaced it with tons of slick new student housing.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      No doubt those Cold War era dorms had outlived their planned life. Time for replacement. Hell, they had probably become inhabitable and unsafe>

      Meanwhile, has your undergraduate school replaced any of its lecture courses with courses presented same model as on-line traffic school? I have a pending comment below about how my nephew’s public university “taught” him introductory courses in accounting and macroeconomics that way. Please be assured that the content of those courses was on a par with best practices in the on-line traffic school industry. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so desperately sad.

  17. Roquentin

    I read things like this and think about Louis Althusser and his ideas about “Ideological State Apparatuses.” While in liberal ideology the education is usually considered to be the space where opportunity to improve one’s situation is founded, Althusser reached the complete opposite conclusion. For him, universities are the definitive bouregeois institution, the ideological state apparatus of the modern capitalist state par excellance. The real purpose of the university was not to level the playing field of opportunity but to preserve the advantages of the bourgeoisie and their children, allowing the class system to perpetuate/reproduce itself.

    It certainly would explain a lot. It would explain why trying to send everyone to college won’t solve this, because not everyone can have a bourgeois job. Some people actually have to do the work. The whole point of the university as an institution was to act as a sorting/distribution hub for human beings, placing them at certain points within the division of labor. A college degree used to mean more because getting it was like a golden ticket, guaranteeing someone who got it at least a petit-bourgeois lifestyle. The thing is, there are only so many slots in corporate America for this kind of employment. That number is getting smaller too. You could hand every man, woman, and child in America a BS and it wouldn’t change this in the slightest.

    What has happened instead, for college to preserve its role as the sorting mechanism/preservation of class advantage is what I like to call degree inflation and/or an elite formed within degrees themselves. Now a BS or BA isn’t enough, one needs an Master’s or PhD to really be distinguished. Now a degree from just any institution won’t do, it has to be an Ivy or a Tier 1 school. Until we learn to think realistically about what higher education is as an institution little or nothing will change.

    1. Jim

      Any credential is worthless if everybody has it. All information depends on contrast. It’s impossible for everybody to “stand out” from the masses. The more people have college degrees the less value a college degree has.

  18. sid_finster

    When I was half-grown, I heard it said that religion is no longer the opiate of the masses, in that no one believes in God anymore, at least not enough for it to change actual behavior.

    Instead, buying on credit is the opiate of the masses.

  19. MaroonBulldog

    My nephew asked me to help him with his college introductory courses in macroeconomics and accounting. I was disappointed to find out what was going on: no lectures by professors, no discussion sessions with teaching assistants; no team projects–just two automated correspondence courses, with automated computer graded problem sets objective tests–either multiple choice, fill in the blank with a number, or fill in the blank with a form answer. This from a public university that is charging tuition for attendance just as though it were really teaching something. All they’re really certifying is that the student can perform exercises is correctly reporting what a couple of textbooks said about subjects of marginal relevance to his degree. My nephew understands exactly that this is going on, but still ….

    This is how 21st century America treats its young people: it takes people who are poor, in the sense that they have no assets, and makes them poorer, loading them up with student debt, which they incur in order to finance a falsely-so-called course of university study that can’t be a good deal, even for the best students among them.

    I am not suggesting the correspondence courses have no worth at all. But they do not have the worth that is being charged for them in this bait-and-switch exercise by Ed Business.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      After further thought, I’d compare my nephew’s two courses to on-line traffic school: Mechanized “learning”–forget it all as soon as the test is over–Critical thinking not required. Except for the kind of “test preparation” critical thinking that teaches one to spot and eliminate the obviously wrong choices in objective answers–that kind of thinking saves time and so is very helpful.

      Not only is he paying full tuition to receive this treatment, but his family and mine are paying taxes to support it, too.

      Very useful preparation for later life, where we can all expect to attend traffic school a few times. But no preparation for any activity of conceivable use or benefit to any other person.

  20. P. Fitzsimon

    I read recently that the business establishment viewed the most important contribution of colleges was that they warehoused young people for four years to allow maturing.

  21. Fred Grosso

    Where are the young people in all this? Is anyone going to start organizing to change things? Any ideas? Any interest? Are we going to have some frustrated, emotional person attempt to kill a university president once every ten years? Then education can appeal for support from the government to beef up security. Meanwhile the same old practices will prevail and the rich get richer and the rest of us get screwed.

    Come on people step up.

  22. Unorthodoxmarxist

    The reason students accept this has to be the absolutely demobilized political culture of the United States combined with what college represents structurally to students from the middle classes: the only possibility – however remote – of achieving any kind of middle class income. Really your choices in the United States are, in terms of jobs, to go into the military (and this is really for working class kids, Southern families with a military history and college-educated officer-class material) or to go to college. The rest, who have no interest in the military, attend college, much like those who wanted to achieve despite of their class background went into the priesthood in the medieval period. There hasn’t been a revolt due to the lack of any idea it could function differently and that American families are still somehow willing to pay the exorbitant rates to give their children a piece of paper that still enables them to claim middle class status though fewer and fewer find jobs. $100k in debt seems preferable to no job prospects at all.

    Colleges have become a way for the ruling class to launder money into supposed non-profits and use endowments to purchase stocks, bonds, and real estate. College administrators and their lackeys (the extended school bureaucracy) are propping up another part of the financial sector – just take a look at Harvard’s $30+ billion endowment, or Yale’s $17 billion – these are just the top of a very large heap. They’re all deep into the financial sector. Professors and students are simply there as an excuse for the alumni money machine and real estate scams to keep running, but there’s less and less of a reason for them to employ professors, and I say this as a PhD with ten years of teaching experience who has seen the market dry up even more than it was when I entered grad school in the early 2000s.

    1. A Real Black Person purple monkey dishwasher

      “Colleges have become a way for the ruling class to launder money into supposed non-profits and use endowments to purchase stocks, bonds, and real estate. ” Unorthodoxmarxist, I thought I was the only person who was coming to that conclusion. I think there’s data out there that could support our thesis that college tuition inflation may be affecting real estate prices. After all, justification a college grad gave to someone who was questioning the value of a college degree was that by obtaining a “a degree” and a professional job, an adult could afford to buy a home in major metropolitan hubs. I’m not sure if he was that ignorant, (business majors, despite the math requirement are highly ideological people. They’re no where near as objective as they like to portray themselves as) or if he hasn’t been in contact with anyone with a degree trying to buy a home in a metropolitan area.
      Anyways, if our thesis is true, then if home prices declined in 2009, then college tuition should have declined as well, but it didn’t at most trustworthy schools. Prospective students kept lining up to pay more for education that many insiders believe is “getting worse” because of widespread propaganda and a lack of alternatives, especially for “middle class” women.

  23. Pelham

    It’s hard to say, but there ought to be a power keg of students here primed to blow. And Bernie Sanders’ proposal for free college could be the fuse.

    But first he’d have the light the fuse, and maybe he can. He’s getting huge audiences and a lot of interest these days. And here’s a timely issue. What would happen if Sanders toured colleges and called for an angry, mass and extended student strike across the country to launch on a certain date this fall or next spring to protest these obscene tuitions and maybe call for something else concrete, like a maximum ratio of administrators to faculty for colleges to receive accreditation?

    It could ignite not only a long-overdue movement on campuses but also give a big boost to his campaign. He’d have millions of motivated and even furious students on his side as well as a lot of motivated and furious parents of students (my wife and I would be among them) — and these are just the types of people likely to get out and vote in the primaries and general election.

    Sanders’ consistent message about the middle class is a strong one. But here’s a solid, specific but very wide-ranging issue that could bring that message into very sharp relief and really get a broad class of politically engaged people fired up.

    I’m not one of those who think Sanders can’t win but applaud his candidacy because it will nudge Hillary Clinton. I don’t give a fig about Clinton. I think there’s a real chance Sanders can win not just the nomination but also the presidency. This country is primed for a sharp political turn. Sanders could well be the right man in the right place and time. And this glaring and ongoing tuition ripoff that EVERYONE agrees on could be the single issue that puts him front-and-center rather than on the sidelines.

  24. Rosario

    I finished graduate school about three years ago. During the pre-graduate terms that I paid out of pocket (2005-2009) I saw a near 70 percent increase in tuition (look up KY college tuition 1987-2009 for proof). Straight bullshit, but remember our school was just following the national (Neoliberal) model. Though, realize that I was 19-23 years old. Very immature (still immature) and feeling forces beyond my control. I did not protest out of a) fear [?] (I don’t know, maybe, just threw that in there) b) the sheepskin be the path to salvation (include social/cultural pressures from parent, etc.). I was more affected by b). This is the incredible power of our current Capitalist culture. It trains us well. We are always speaking its language, as if a Classic. Appraising its world through its values. I wished to protest (i.e. Occupy, etc.) but to which master? All of its targets are post modern, all of it, to me, nonsense, and, because of this undead (unable to be destroyed). This coming from a young man, as I said, still immature, though I fear this misdirection, and alienation is affecting us all.

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