Fee Increases? Don’t Complain, Gold-Digger

Glenn Beck writes about higher education’s hypocrisy about the way it uses its money:

Harvard University, which has the largest endowment in the country, has a total of $34.6 billion. To put into perspective just how much money that is, consider that the largest charitable foundation in the world, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has a total endowment of $37.3 billion. […] What I do have a problem with – and it’s a big one – is how Harvard spends that money. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say how Harvard, doesn’t spend that money.

Schools with large endowments (at least $500 million) reported spending an average of 4.4 percent of their stockpiles in 2007. Meanwhile, those same schools made an average of over 19 percent on their money.

But I also have another problem, and that is how these sanctimonious institutions who are so good at complaining about the injustices of our government are nothing but really highly educated hypocrites.

For what’s been estimated to be about $300 million a year (less than 1 percent of their endowment’s value) Harvard could completely waive tuition, room and board for every single one of their students. Instead, they announced an increase in those fees of about 3.5 percent for next year. Being a student at Harvard will now cost a staggering $47,215 a year.

The problem with this is, Harvard, even though it isn’t a for-profit organization, really doesn’t have an incentive to keep fee increases only at the level of overall inflation. This will be true as long as students view Harvard primarily as a means of achieving certain jobs and certain lifestyles and a certain social status. Martin Luther once wrote of the same thing, saying that it was a great loss to the church and the progress of the gospel for people, upon seeing that education was no longer the most conducive to material gain, to be taking their children out of the schools:

I am speaking of the common people, who used to have their children educated for the sake of the livings and benefices but now keep them away from learning to earn a livelihood.

If this is all we stay in school for, then there is no reason to demand that universities desist from piling on the fees for their service in helping us obtain the jobs we want. If this is all we study for, may the university administrations break our backs with the incurred costs of doing something meaningless for the incidental benefit of material gain, even if we think of it in the restrained parameters of “security” and “comfort”, because we will deserve to be in all the debt it entails.

Lest anyone forget why we have “plebeian” state universities, let us consider whether the founders of these universities could have thought it a worthy end to establish glorified diploma mills – granted, with lots of blood, sweat and tears involved – whose chief end was to make people richer or to create that illusion, or even to help people “survive” in a sick society that demands a degree even as it devalues every degree to a degree unimaginable in times past.

No. From both inside and outside, the system is broken: by administration and faculty, because they think they alone of all people should have that “academic freedom” to do all things with impunity, and by the masses of students, who think they rule the world because they will soon be reaping the material benefits of their toil. Woe to all inside and out who delude and denude themselves for an idol, for they will soon find when they try to find their clothes that they are gone, rotted away by the neglect they paid to the true cultivation of their minds.

We need, need, need to recover an image of the university that contributes to society not as a cog in the social engineering machine or the money machine but as something better, a concept as foreign and old-fashioned to us as the use of chamberpots. Well, if we do nothing about it, we may find ourselves inside such a chamber(pot).


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