Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s decision to tap Rep. Paul Ryan (R — Wis.) as his running mate cements Romney’s status as an anti-student candidate. And if you (being students at the University of Oregon or really any other U.S. public university) vote for them, you are absolutely voting against your interests.
Because while many of the talking heads will go on and on about Medicare, Social Security and the implications for the old (important issues in their own right), I just think it’s important to point out that Ryan has been aggressively in support of things we absolutely disagree with.
Most clearly, Ryan supports limiting student eligibility for the Pell Grant program, which anticipated 9.4 million students nationwide in 2011, according to the Department of Education.
However, while he eventually fell in line with preventing what would have been a doubling in the interest rate on federally subsidized loans, his plan would include just unsubsidized loans for those affected by the cut in Pell Grants, which transforms, according to Inside Higher Ed “the federal financial aid programs into a Pell Grant aimed at a smaller number of needy students and offering unsubsidized loans (which have an interest rate of 6.8 percent) to everyone else.”
The Pell Grants, signed under President Johnson, have long been a big part of making college more affordable for a wide group of students. And offering a big chunk of these students unsubsidized loans instead of that, to save money, is not an acceptable solution.
Further, Ryan initiated legislation that would have opened the door nationwide for things like what is happening now with student housing in Eugene.
H.R. 1548, which ended up in a House committee, would have amended IRS text to allow private tax exemptions for individuals or corporations who were to “provide, improve, operate, or maintain collegiate housing.”
Meanwhile, in Eugene, a similar sort of exemption — the Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption — while based more on downtown housing in general than student housing, has been used in the last couple years by developers to dominate the area in apartments. As a recent influx of students have followed football success to the Eug, students have been at the behest of landlords and these outsourced developers.
Though the discussion over 1548 seemed to simply surround fraternities and sororities — as alumni could donate facilities to their old houses — the language presented in the bill very plainly would allow companies to profit from students’ locations.
Ryan’s record on education — which also includes support for for-profit colleges and school vouchers — falls in line with his stances on many other public policy issues. And where you fall on those other issues will also be hotly debated this coming November. But when it comes to these issues, a vote for that ticket is one against things that benefit students.
As a note on the complete other hand, Romney’s selection is an incredibly interesting one. From all of the wonkery (that is, political nerding out) I’ve read about it, I think the consensus is that Ryan was simultaneously the safe and risky pick for him to make. Ryan’s budget plans (including one notoriously without numbers), established him as a sort of conservative wunderkind, while the specifics made him a rightful boogeyman of the left.
Students should really pay attention this fall because with everything that’s been discussed since he was selected on Saturday, this election is one with a chance to make a big statement.
And the future of higher education is on the line.