Education should be a right

Higher education is held in the highest regard while it is measured in dollars and cents. Tuition at the University of Minnesota today is the highest it has ever been. The struggle of being a student today starts with the growing burden of a potential lifetime of debt in an uncertain job market. These are the conditions of higher education today, an institution that is supposed to be the most highly regarded by society.

Since 1960, tuition at the University of Minnesota has nearly doubled every decade.

This is the result of a major change in the priorities of the University. The emphasis of higher education has shifted from providing students with education toward a model that offers increasing pay to a growing administration at the expense of the students that pay for it. Consequences of this change include cuts to programs and services to divert funds away from education and toward administration. This model is unsustainable.

Students for a Democratic Society at the University has been at the forefront to challenge the priorities of our university, calling for education as a right. The demands of SDS have included an end to tuition hikes, which resulted in a victory in the form of a tuition freeze this year and next. This victory is the result of two years of work culminating in a referendum last year that saw overwhelming student support. The passed referendum demanded an end to tuition hikes and a reduction in administration (in size and salary) in order to invest in education.

While administration has frozen tuition, it has not reduced it. As highlighted by the state government and national media in the past year, the University is among the most wasteful universities.

As students are asked to pay more and more, they must also demand more accountability for their tuition. As has been witnessed across the globe, this is the case. Students from Chile to Puerto Rico, from Quebec to California, wage mass strikes to hold the line on their right to education.

SDS has been on the front lines nationally in the struggle for education in the United States.

As we move forward to attain our education, we call on all students to join us in the fight for education justice. The next great economic crisis — our student debt — is on our backs. It’s clear that an education that incurs such debts is the greatest burden of our generation.

SDS calls for all students to join us in this struggle and demand that education equity, access and affordability be a right for all. The time is now for students to stand up and fight back.