Editorial 11/18: Protect the Liberal Arts

Affordable education has been at the forefront of many political platforms during this past election cycle. While previous Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders boasted proposals for debt-free tuition, the Republican President-Elect, Donald Trump, has a different plan.

Trump has admitted that the student-debt crisis in America is a “tremendous problem,” and most recent college graduates would agree. With over $1.2 trillion dollars worth of outstanding student loan debt in the country, the cost of an education is becoming a luxury that few can afford. Those who can’t afford it take their chance on borrowing large sums of money from private and federal loan agencies. The average Canisius student borrows just under $8,000 every year to help pay for the hefty price tag that our College stamps on it’s education.

To combat this growing problem, Trump advisors have suggested that the President-Elect would remove the government from the student loan system, leaving the lending process solely up to private banks.

If you’re currently studying communications, philosophy, English, creative writing, criminal justice, theology, or any of the creative arts, this could be a huge problem.

Profit-driven, private banks would likely favor students looking to study STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) since these students are more likely to yield careers with higher incomes than those studying the liberal arts. Therefore, these students would take precedent with the assumption they would be less likely to be delinquent or default on their loans.

While it is incredibly important to encourage students to join these developing fields, to toss aside the worth of a liberal arts education is not only offensive to liberal arts majors (which happen to be a good portion of The Griffin staff) but would also put low-income prospective students at an even greater disadvantage, as they would have to wait to study a field they were actually interested in unless they were to receive great amounts of scholarship money. On a much larger scale, making it less possible (or, at the very least, less appealing) to become a liberal arts major could be damaging to our country as a whole.

Education is a beautiful thing. College isn’t just a “career-training ground,” it is a place where people are meant to become more culturally aware, more just – to obtain a deeper knowledge of American history, become strategic thinkers. If the only thing you gain from your college education is the bare minimum requirements to achieve an entry-level job, you have seriously wasted four years of your life. The opportunity to receive a broad education about a wide variety of subjects is a privilege that all students should take seriously.

Just a few decades ago, there was nothing more noble than an intellectual with a degree in humanities or the social sciences. To have the ability to spot patterns in human behavior and recognize potential conflicts before they occur is a dying virtue that should be actively sought to be resurrected.

There are many successful CEOs and influencers that have studied the liberal arts. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, graduated with a B.S. in Communications and Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, graduated with a B.A. in Literature and Theater. Even just as a secondary major or field of study, a greater competency of history, literature, or philosophy will only strengthen skills for anyone who is looking to succeed in their primary field.

It is not good enough just to receive a degree that generalizes the liberal arts into a series of mundane requirements that uninterested students aim to cross off of their “to do” list come registration. It needs to be valued as a separate scheme and represented as a group of worthy majors to study.

It is time to demand that our government prioritize education. Actual education. The development of humans into sound-minded and understanding persons is a necessity that cannot be overlooked because of financial reasons. We need to invest in more than just future American jobs, but specifically in competent adults who can make thoughtful decisions, responsibly consume the media, and act as positive contributors to society.

We cannot just sit idly by and allow the government to turn the fate of our education system to private banks, which have proven to act in disregard of the best interest of average Americans.

Affordable education is far too important to the success of our nation.

For now, The Griffin encourages you to value your liberal arts classes while you can. Wake up and ask questions during your Religion 101, and try to learn beyond what your core curriculum requires of you. Take advantage of the opportunities allotted to you, as they may not be given to generations after us. There is great pride in having a well-rounded education. Knowledge is a gift and you should treat it as such. We are here to receive more than a ticket into the “real world;” we are here because we are the future of our country. We will be the great decision-makers: the CEOs, the poets, and the rabble-rousers. We will be the names that end up in the overpriced history textbooks that future generations will forget to read.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”

The country needs engineers, but that’s not all we need. Believe in your friends’ potential success, regardless of their majors. Lobby for affordable education that is available to the masses. Demand the absolute freedom to study as you please, regardless of your financial status. This should not be a revolutionary idea, this should be an innate right of all Americans. Anything less is a disservice to our country.

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