In his Sept. 28 letter to The Roanoke Times, “What price publicity?” Jeffrey Douglas questions Radford University’s spending $250,000 on a campus debate. I agree that Radford may have acted unwisely, however the letter mentions another more ominous problem: the growing crisis of excessive tuition and fees and overwhelming student debt.
One hesitates to invoke the hyperbole of “crisis,” however the median loan debt for a bachelor’s degree is roughly $30,000, and for many professional degrees that figure may be five times higher, or more. There is an obvious need for universities to manage all of their resources — public and private — more efficiently; finding ways to make higher education more affordable and reducing the societal burden of educational debt. While by no means solving its student debt problem, Radford University’s quarter million dollar “slush fund” would have helped.
Much more can and will be said about educational debt. However, I suspect that unless students’ personal costs become so prohibitive — especially for lower income families — that there is a severe decline in enrollment, and public universities begin to feel the actual pain of a financial crisis, little will change. But waiting for a crisis to mobilize necessary action makes no sense.
I do not suppose that everyone will agree with what I have said (too much agreement could be a sign that I have been too moderate). Disagreements are inevitable; however, in times of urgent need there are no “prizes” for being right nor “punishments” for being wrong; there are simply consequences.