Editor of Baffler Magazine talks about rising tuition costs

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Baffler Magazine Editor Thomas Frank expresses his ideas regarding higher education and its rising cost at a discussion hosted by the Department of American Studies on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Though many believe a college education can provide opportunities, Baffler Magazine editor Thomas Frank expressed in a discussion hosted by the Department of American Studies why he thought the expenses associated with a higher education is not necessary. 

Frank said the American Public University System is the United States’s proclaimed utopia — a place of wish fulfillment and production of dreams.

“Everyone tells us this about the utopia — the President of the United States, a favorite teacher and the high school counselor” Frank said.

Frank said a higher education is viewed as the “golden ticket” in America today.

“A college degree is the credential that matters the most in society,” Frank said.

Frank said the rising tuition prices have nothing to do with transferring wisdom from professors to students. He said the money produces a social status that causes life-crushing debt.

“Students wake up to $100,000 in debt, with no prospects in some cases,” Frank said. “Every aspect of this dream has become a monopoly.”

Frank said the money does not go to the professors teaching the students, but to unnecessary luxury items.

“The money goes to architecture, stadiums, food courts and celebrity professors” Frank said.

Frank said he thinks the system cannot continue on this way. He suggested possible solutions to correcting the current issues of raised tuition bills.

“College should become free or very cheap,” Frank said. “Student loan debts should be refinanced with 0 percent interest.”

Frank said he agrees with President Barack Obama on the importance of an education, and it’s value could be sought more widely if the prices decline.

“Education isn’t about getting rich,” Frank said. “What’s to be done, is students need to speak out about what they want.”

Frank encouraged students to critically question the value of higher education, and also to question what value they derive from universities.

Business sophomore Christine Karenev described higher education as a given right.

“Education should be an unalienable right — the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of a higher education,” Karener said. 

Elizabeth Engelhardt is the chairman of the Department of American Studies opened up the presentation for Frank. 

“The opportunity was something we couldn’t pass up,” Engelhardt said.

The Baffler Magazine is a printed and digital magazine, composed of art and criticism articles, that began publishing in 1988.