Students Protest For Entitlements

Katy Grimes: On the west steps of the Capitol today a small group of college students protested the proposed cuts to public university and community college budgets — schools which the California taxpayers already subsidize.

And right along with the students were several legislators encouraging the entitlement. Even the usually subtle Democratic Sen. Leland Yee was boldly encouraging students to put pressure on legislators about the budget cuts. “Knock on your Senator’s door. Knock down the Governor’s door!” yelled Yee.

And then I remembered that Yee is running for San Francisco Mayor.

One student leader, clearly comfortaqble whipping up crowds, spoke to the sign-carrying students as if they were her flock and she, their preacher. When she claimed that her University of California education would cost $200,000, even if she didn’t finish school, students cheered.

But  U.C. website estimates don’t add up to a $200,000 college education – unless a non-resident student is living in an off-campus apartment. And, university tuition fees are $10,781 for residents, and $11,639 for non-residents, per academic year.

Student’s signs read, “They say cut back, we say fight back,” and “UC my Dream.” There were many signs in Spanish and students were encouraged by legislators to support The Dream Act – the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors” act.

Assembly members Susan Bonilla, D-Concord and Marty Block, D-San Diego, encouraged the students to fight the cuts. Block and the students chanted, “Si se puede!”

A group of students danced to “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever, (popular when I was in high school), and according to student leaders, “when higher education was still affordable.”

But I must confess. I did attend state college at a time when it was possible to work two jobs and go to school, while paying for tuition, books, and parking fees, with a little creativity, from cash flow. Student loans were unusual, and typically used only for the most expensive schools.

But with the government expansion greatly supporting the entitlement mentality of today, everyone deserves a student loan, because everyone deserves a college education.

A November press release from the California State University announcing tuition increases read, “One third of revenue from tuition increases will be set aside for financial aid.  Through the awarding of State University Grants, Cal Grants and CSU tuition and fee waivers, approximately 180,000 undergraduate students – about 50 percent of all CSU undergrads – do not pay tuition and have their tuition covered completely by financial aid.  The CSU is also the largest recipient of Federal Pell Grants.”

But more than just the cost of school and cost of living has changed in the ensuing years. A basic philosophically has been dramatically altered — previous generations never believed an educational entitlement was owed to them.

Far too many students today take out student loans, don’t work, and live very nicely – except for many students from working and middle class families, who often don’t qualify for grants or low cost loans.

College lifestyle appears to be more important today as well, when subsisting on Top Ramen and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese while living in a crappy apartment was how most struggling students made ends meet.

“They wouldn’t have a job without us!” yelled the student leader. “My testimony is just like you’alls,” [sic] she screamed into the microphone. “I can’t afford this.”

And when she and the other kids graduate and owe more in student loans that they will make in a 4-year period, the entitlement chant will become “We shouldn’t have to pay this back.”

I have heard that lament too many times. And lawmakers are only encouraging this for the entitlement generation.

FEB. 28, 2011

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