Letter to the Editor, 12/7/2015

By Hannah Weintraub

On Nov. 17, The Pitt News published a column by Timothy Nerozzi asking why the demand for higher education is so great when the price is increasingly unaffordable for many students.

First, a university degree has become an economic necessity. As Nerozzi pointed out, our economy places less value on degrees from vocational schools and community colleges than degrees from four-year universities.  The reason for this devaluation lies partially in the classist attitude that many people from wealthier backgrounds have against vocational schools and community colleges. It is these belittling attitudes that set the low value of associate degrees.

The second reason is that we are humans and innately want to learn. Viewing a university education as a game of economics simplifies our human complexity and our nearly universal desire to follow our curiosities and attain knowledge. The “glut of students” who come to school despite their mounting student debt should be celebrated for expressing their human desire to learn, despite the challenges our university stacks against them.

From an economic standpoint, student debt has been proven by many analysts to severely harm the economy for everyone — students and the general population alike. Claiming that ending student debt is a liberal scheme to get “a free lunch,” as Nerozzi does, does not acknowledge the detrimental effect that student debt has on us all.

Our schools should not function as businesses producing a valued product, but rather as places for all people to express their human desire to learn together.

Hannah Weintraub is a Sophomore and member of the Pitt Against Debt campaign

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