Letter to the editor
Voter apathy hurts campus
November 17, 2006
In a recent elections article, a UWRF student said, “None of the candidates give a shit about us.”
There’s some truth to that.
With notable exceptions like Dan Gorman, a 2006 UWRF graduate, politicians don’t give much weight to the concerns of college students. However, if students voted at the same rate that senior citizens do, tuition would be virtually free.
Politicians don’t mess with Social Security because seniors vote. In 2000, 72 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 voted, while only 36 per- cent of those 18 to 24 voted.
If students politically mobilized like AARP does, they would wield political power.
Despite what you might think, students are directly affected by political decisions. Thirty years ago, the state of Wisconsin funded 44 percent of UW System costs.
Today, the legislature funds just 19 percent of a UW education. Much of the difference comes from your pocket. Over the past 20 years, tuition in the UW System has increased 350 percent, while inflation has only been 81 percent. If tuition had risen at the same rate as inflation, you would pay $1,800 for a year of education instead of $5,000.
Why should tax dollars be spent on your education? The factor that most strongly correlates with the economic vitality of a state is not corporate tax rates, but the percentage of residents who have a college degree. The best thing a state can do for itself is to educate its citizens and make higher education affordable.
You will also be affected by November’s national election results. Elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has proposed cutting student loan interest rates in half, saving the average graduate $5,000. In the 1980s, only 25 percent of UW students were taking student loans. Today, 60 percent of our students do.
To students who voted, thank you. To those who didn’t, please do so next time. It’s worth your time.