Green Party holds education rally on Northrop mall

by Libby George

The University Green Party held a rally on Northrop mall Wednesday afternoon with several of the major Green-endorsed candidates outlining their party’s platform.

Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Ray Tricomo, U.S. House candidate Tim Davis and state auditor candidate Dave Berger spoke at the event, focusing on radical higher education reforms.

“I hate seeing students reduced to neurosis or a breakdown trying to finance college,” Tricomo said. “This country, the richest country in the world, can afford to pay for that (education).”

In order to finance his plan, Tricomo advocated repealing the tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush and increasing taxes on the wealthy.

“We need to let the Bill Gateses of the world know the party’s over,” Tricomo said.

He added there is still “no free lunch” and said his plan would include two to four years of mandatory community service after graduation.

Davis shared the same plans for free higher education. He also supported removing corporate sponsorship from schools.

“We must remove inequality from keeping anyone out of college and remove corporate influence and profit from our public universities,” Davis said.

He also had different plans on how to finance higher education.

“We don’t need to spend more money on things like military. We have a military – we just need to reprioritize,” Davis said. He said Pell grants should be more widely available, and education should be free.

Economic stimulus plans released Monday and Tuesday by Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman and Democratic incumbent Paul Wellstone, respectively, both called for increasing Pell grants but did not advocate discontinuing student loans entirely.

Party supporters said they didn’t view the disparity among the Greens, Republicans and Democrats as evidence the Greens should not be taken seriously.

“The Greens are an idealistic party,” said Jason Samuels, a senior College of Liberal Arts student and former Green Party candidate for state representative. “This is why the Greens are the only party that unequivocally stands for universal health care, total public financing of education, acceptance and justice for all people and an end to war.”

Samuels was ordered off the ballot Tuesday by the state Supreme Court after a “residency crisis.”

Berger agreed with Davis about removing corporate sponsorship.

“I have come to appreciate the costs of corporate greed for profit,” Berger said.

He also talked about rerouting the money the University spends on construction projects into education.

The candidates also weighed in on University-specific issues, such as the controversial Mount Graham International Observatory project and student activism.

“It seems money can corrupt anyone these days,” Tricomo said, referring to the $5 million Hubbard Broadcasting donation being used to finance the Mount Graham project. “That money ought to be used for women’s studies or for studies of indigenous peoples.”

Tricomo said he blamed University presidents for having “malignant lack of principle” and said it is up to students to make universities accountable.

“Everybody needs to slow down and take a look at the fact we’re losing the democracy and we’re losing the environment,” Tricomo said. “Students need to get active, get radical and get scholarly all at the same time.”

Libby George covers national politics and welcomes comments at [email protected]