Open letter to angry students re: tuition prices

Harrison Leonard

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CSUN students protest CSU budget cuts and tuition increases March 4, 2010. Photo credit: Christanna Triolo/ executive editor

Dear Fellow Students,

It is disheartening to learn of the most recent round of CSU tuition hikes, which are set to take effect next semester. Everyone, it seems, is up in arms about them.

I graduate in four weeks, so fortunately my wallet is being spared from any further raping. You, however, are not so lucky. We live in challenging times and everybody could benefit from a little advice, so I hope you are amenable to some of mine.

Selfish politicians have propelled the Golden State deep into a seemingly irreversible debt, and they are now sacrificing you and your education upon the Altar of Unpaid Bills.

You have cause to be angry with these unrestrained, egomaniacal dolts who forced you into this regrettable mess.

You should also be mad at yourselves (or those around you, at least), for being pathetic rubes that bought into the deception “hook, line and sinker,” and continually refuse to learn from your mistakes. You are getting upset over the symptoms while ignoring the disease. It’s time to wise up.

I touched on this subject in a column last semester, entitled “Five questions for last week’s student protesters.” Apparently, you didn’t bother to read it. Allow me to make this as simple as I can.

There is a market cost for the price of a college education. At a public state university, that cost is shared between the consumer (i.e., you) and the school. It’s not that CSUN is significantly cheaper than any other school; it’s that the government subsidizes a portion of the tuition costs.

CSU receives most of its funding from the state. CSU is in debt because California is in debt; California can no longer provide CSU with the money promised to them.

The people who pushed California into this hole are, for the most part, Democrats in the state house who, as Kanye West put it, have “trouble with spending money before (they) get it.” They were elected by a plurality of Californians. Students make up an important voting bloc they need to get elected. They promised to “support” education and you, or many of your fellow students, helped put them into power.

Are you listening? Many of the students who are complaining about increased tuition sealed their own fate by electing these lunatics in the first place! Is this microphone on?!

My friends, I care about you. I am one of you. Most of us are not made of money. For some families, higher tuition costs mean the difference between college and working an unskilled job.

So please, try something new, for the love of God and all that is holy. Stop going back to the people that are hurting you. Use your brains in tandem with your hearts for once.

Schools operate on budgets, too. Well, theoretically they are supposed to. State-funded institutions have the added benefit of being able to fall back on bond initiatives and fiat money, which make paying for things with money they don’t have far easier.

Obviously, this is a false prosperity. The credit card bill must be paid eventually, and the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

California (and consequently CSU) has been in the red financially for a while now. But instead of tightening their belts and clamping down on the spending, they continue to make costly investments on unnecessary things, like research grants for hackneyed programs, student groups whose ideas you may not even believe in, campus concerts, and matador statues.

Is this how you or your family manage credit card debt? Why should you expect any different from your public servants?

Having sat next to you in classes for the past two years, it is quite clear many of you seem to think the answer at the federal level is to punish wealthy people and tax our way out of everything. Of course, you are aware that hiking tuition costs to pay for budget shortfalls is the same exact thing. How does it feel now?

In a fashion of ending, I would just like to remind you that the true cost of lavish spending is painful. Living within (or beneath) your means isn’t very sexy, but it sure beats the alternative. CSU students are now learning, whether they realize it or not, that false prosperity hurts far more in the long run than only spending what you can afford to buy.

Everybody in nearly every public industry in this state claim they want to cut spending – just not in their field. But it has to be done, as unpleasant as it is. The sooner we allow the state to correct its malinvestment, the better. Then we can begin to change the budgetary culture of Sacramento. If you want to see a change, make a change at the top.

Paying the bills means making painful choices to close budget deficits. When it comes to paying off debt, the government always picks winners and losers. Between ever-rising tuition rates and the fact you just re-elected the big spenders two weeks ago, I’m sure you know which one you are.

Sincerely yours,

Harrison Leonard