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Student criticizes Occupy URI, stresses tuition as investment

On March 5, 2012


To the Cigar,

Last Thursday, there was a movement on our Quadrangle know as Occupy URI. The point of the movement was to point out that tuition costs are rising and that many students are coming out of college with more debt than they can handle.

Occupy URI joined up with the "No Cuts, No Compromises" (NCNC) petition which blames banks and corporations for putting students into too much debt when they graduate.

NCNC's introduction starts with the following: "Do you know how much of what you will ultimately pay for your student loan will go toward education and how much will end up lining the pockets of financial institutions that contribute nothing to education?"

Maybe what the occupiers fail to understand is that without these financial institutions, thousands of students would not be able to afford higher education. Yes, you have to pay interest, but it's the interest you pay that allows these institutions to stay in business and continue to give out loans to students in need.

But what about all of the students over their heads in debt? They should think about how they got there. They selected their school and their major. No one forced them to pick a college that they cannot afford.

Unfortunately, many Americans cannot afford private institutions, but that is why state schools, along with community colleges and technical schools, have been established. Many schools are available for much lower costs so that students do not have to take out massive loans.

College is an investment. You are attending college as a young man or woman to gain a marketable skill to ultimately get a job after graduation. If you waste years of school undecided about your major or graduate without a good degree, you will not get return on your investment. It's just like investing in a stock. You might invest in Google because you think that in four years you can make money off of it. Same goes for college. In four years, you should be able to turn those thousands of education-invested dollars into a well paying job.

Occupy URI also points out that tuition should be lowered. I would personally love to not have to pay as much as I do now, but this is not the way to bring about change. In 2008-09, the state of Rhode Island funded 15.5 percent of URI's revenue. It is now somewhere in-between 8-11 percent.

URI receives very little from the state government, making us practically a private institution. But because we are not a private institution, federal funding comes with red-tape. URI cannot simply lower tuition. We must receive approval for many of our cuts and budgets through the state government. This means that it would be wiser to protest in front of the statehouse in Providence, rather than the university itself.

I was incredibly disappointed in the movement when I posted on the official Occupy URI Facebook page. I pointed out that some of their arguments may be flawed. Instead of a healthy debate, I found that my comments and posts were immediately deleted. I thought that the whole point of Occupy was to hear "the 99 percent." It doesn't seem very democratic of the group to delete comments and posts of anyone with different views.



Ben Bernstein

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