Money in the Wrong Places

In “Dispatches from Pepper-Spray University,” Julia Sze and Sunaina Maira analyze the incident in 2011 where students of UC Davis were pepper sprayed by police while protesting a proposed tuition increase. They argue that neoliberalism and the increased privatization of universities in the United States is the cause of events like these; the lack of funding from the government forces universities to increase tuition dramatically, causing immense pressure on students and their families.

The New York Times article “The Law School Debt Crisis”, by the Editorial Board, describes the growing problem the American law students face with student debt and unemployment. The authors write that tuition increases leave the average law student with over $100,000 in student debt and less students have been passing the BAR exam in recent years. The authors blame the governmental loan system for offering limitless loans to students who are later unable to pay them off. This massive debt increase lowered the amount of law school applicants, causing schools to accept lower quality applicants and thus increasing the amount of students who cannot pass the BAR exam and end up unemployed and drowning in debt.

Like Sze and Maira, the authors of the NY Times article blame the government for tuition increases, but they show a different aspect of the problem. Sze and Maira focus on the lack of government funding causing privatization while the NY Times claims that offering too much money in loans gives students more debt than they can pay off. It seems to me that if the government is giving money towards education, it should go to lowering tuition instead of increasing the burden of student debt.


2 thoughts on “Money in the Wrong Places

  1. While I agree with your view regarding government aid for tuition, I do not think this is an issue that can be solved simply. For example, the US government spends trillions of dollars every year on a plethora of departments, including military, prison, and social security. The money gained by the government from excessive student loans, while nigh insurmountable for students, represent an entire system of functioning in the US government. The US is a nation of spending into the red, at whatever the cost. In order to truly change the system of higher education in the US, the entire economic field would have to be altered into some form of socialism, as a huge capitalistic nation such as the US lacks the bureaucratic power to provide affordable aid to all of its citizens.


  2. This is a subject that actually interests me a lot. I do believe that the US could make some changes to where they are spending most of the federal funding on. More money from the federal budget should go towards funding education, rather than putting so much of it into our military, prisons, etc. If more money was put towards education there would be more money available as financial aid, not just for those in the lower class, but for citizens in all social classes. More available financial aid would also mean that there would be less need for so many student loans to be taken out, which would lead to a collective decrease in the total debt owed by students. Many people in the US seem to be okay with current government budget spending or not enough citizens care to make force them to change, but then again it may also be that there is hegemony at work here and most of the citizens are oblivious to this problem. People caught onto the the tuition hikes occuring during the time of the “pepper-spray universitiy” incident, but they did not get to the core reason of why the tuition prices were spiking. People being oblivious may come from their lack of knowledge, which could be linked to the large amount of people that do not attend college. Helping with the financial aspect of attending college would definitely increase the number of students that decide to attend college, leading to an overall increase in citizens who are eductated. There is no simple solution to this problem, but one thing for sure is that more of the federal spending needs to go towards education, since that would overall have the greatest positive outcome on society.


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