How To Radicalize Future Democratic Voters

One of the things that has gone under the radar is the college tuition debate. It’s really been marginalized, but, based on my incredibly unscientific and biased sample of under-30 voters, is a key issue. Recently, the NY Times described how the City University of New York (CUNY), which has provided college education to many New Yorkers (including two serving senators, Barbara Boxer and some guy named Bernie), is falling apart due to a lack of funding.

Corey Robin, a professor at CUNY, describes his personal impressions of the collapse, but one of the comments stuck with me (boldface mine):

I am a freshmen at CCNY, or, in common parlance, Shitty College, and both this and the NYT article were dead-on assessments. Though I am glad that the outsides of our famously beautiful gothic campus have been extensively renovated recently, no doubt to please taxpayers and passers by, they are rotting from the inside. I was there the day water started coming through the ceiling in the NAC, but i was so used to the general shabbiness that i hardly noticed. It is the little things which really get to me. the flickering lightbulb next to the elevator bank on the 4th floor of the NAC library, which stayed that way for an entire semester. I was pleased when i noticed that it was finally no longer flickering, until i realized that it had simply been removed, and not replaced. If lightbulbs aren’t enough, how about a major escalator, our of commission for the entire spring semester? Gaping holes, hemorrhage insulation through the ceiling of the first floor of the library. The carpeting, with its mysteriously large and colored stains, looks like it previously serviced an underground medical research lab. Useless clocks hang out of holes in the classroom walls by their dead wiring. The Shepard music library, on the inside of our most beautiful building, is filled with peeling paint, mold, and collapsed shelving, most of which could be fixed in a day or so, with a ladder, a can of white paint, and some basic tools. How hard could it be to address some of these simple issues? If CCNY, lauded as the Flagship Campus of CUNY, is in such a state, I truly pity the students of less favorable campuses. In the dead of winter, it is truly demoralizing.

These students will remember this. They will remember who degraded their educations. Clinton’s attempt to denigrate Sanders’ plan to subsidize public college tuition sounded really obnoxious to these students: with those crappy facilities, why should you go into debt?

And it’s also worth noting this might explain why Sanders was more popular at public universities than well-heeled private ones. Then again, it’s not about economic class, because nothing is ever about economic class.

By the way, one way to reach out to Sanders supporters–and not just the younger ones either–would be to adopt his college education plan. While tuition was the main focus in the campaign, it has some very good ideas about education as well.

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One Response to How To Radicalize Future Democratic Voters

  1. Vincent Hurtig says:

    I am frustrated with the state of education financing. My son is earning more money than I do ($60K per year), yet is barely getting by because of the monstrous student debt that he has piled up for his (incomplete) college education. He only needs one more semester but cannot afford to go back. Yesterday I was talking with an intelligent young woman who has decided to forego college because she cannot see any point in piling up the huge debt necessary to complete college. I am just frustrated that very few in power do not take these issues seriously

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