With the deadline looming, House Republicans have repeatedly said they will compromise with Democrats and aren’t seeking to fight an impending raise of the debt ceiling. It is certain that our national debt will only grow ever larger, casting a greater shadow on the generations who will have to pay it off one day. In parallel news on campus, the Corporation recently announced a 3.8 percent tuition hike for fiscal year 2015. This increase will raise undergraduate costs to over $59,000 a year, an exorbitant amount that is not unique to Brown.
To some, the national and campus news may seem relatively unrelated. One affects every citizen of the United States; the other, merely the 6,000 or so undergraduates who attend Brown and their parents. But, in fact, both announcements demonstrate a worrying pattern. We — whether that “we” means Brown students or American citizens — are willing to put off the requisite budgetary tightening until a later date over and over again, which serves only to exacerbate the problem. Our national debt can’t balloon uncontrollably forever; neither can college tuition rates around the country. These debt-building policies and rising costs beg the question: When will we be willing to say enough is enough?
Both of the recent announcements will require someone to pay higher costs down the line, and the responsibility to repay these debts will fall in the hands of our generation. We’re the ones who will end up with thousands of dollars in student loan debt, and we’re the ones who will be paying off the massive national debt those before us have accrued. As we enter the workforce, the choice will soon be in our hands, just as it is currently in the hands of our parents. Do we perpetuate the current system and continue to put off the tightening of the economic belt? Or is it time to demand some sort of structural change, a move toward efficient and pragmatic allocation of resources?
As the rising generation poised to take our places in larger society, we have the opportunity to begin calling for the latter. In terms of our national debt, we need to be the ones to figure out smarter ways to spend. How can we make a dollar spent by the government stretch further and reach more people? The political sphere too often consists of ideological debates concerning whether the government should spend money, but we need to be the generation that emphasizes how the government spends funds. We need to be more concerned with finding better ways to run a government, rather than entangling ourselves in these bitter and entrenched philosophical debates.
Calling for more efficiency in Brown’s administration is one way in which we, as students of this university, can begin to make an impact in this regard. We can push for more of a shared services model, as has been employed at the University of Michigan and which will likely save that institution about $17 million a year. It would entail connecting aspects of the University that can be integrated readily. We can protest lavish spending by the University on unnecessary projects and administrative bureaucracy. It’s time to make our voices heard; if we’re the ones who will be paying these costs, we need to do our best to reduce them. It’s time to say, “Enough.”
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Matt Brundage ’15 and Rachel Occhiogrosso ’14, and its members, Hannah Loewentheil ’14 and Thomas Nath ’16. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.