Letter to the Editor: Stephen Witkowski, C’16

Editor’s Note: The following letter was written in response to the column “Should College Tuition Be Free?”, published Mar. 9.

When I read the most recent issue of The Echo, I could not decide which article was more nonsensical; was it Mary Kate Baehl’s argument that ice cream is a viable option for lunch, or Alana Tighe’s article arguing that we should dismiss the idea of free college?

I chose the latter, though I would like to point out that I am not offering a counter-argument in support of subsidized tuition. Rather, this is a response to an article riddled with misinformation and incorrect assumptions.

Everyone should recognize that it should not to be considered a factual article. The 70% income tax seems to be pulled out of thin air, and the notion that our government is bankrupt shows a lack of political knowledge and finances in general. Under current systems of free higher education, few people work for free like Tighe suggests our faculty would.

I feel that it is my responsibility to point out some missteps in Tighe’s logic. First and foremost, let’s address her presumption that “for many, college is free.” This is wrong. The only students who have the privilege of receiving a full ride to any university have either a) shown that they are in the top percentile of their peers in terms of academics and are awarded scholarships; b) demonstrated their exceptional athletic talent and are brought in to be on a sports team; or c) are blessed enough to have their parents pay the entire cost of college.

Ask any of our peers, and you will find that a very small portion of people fall into the third category, if any. While many parents are willing to help their children earn a degree, like my own, it is impossible to expect all parents to pay the entire expense out of pocket. Most of us will still graduate with student loans that need to be paid.

I believe Tighe is mistaken in regard to her assumptions about “the allure of free college for all”. Now more than ever, a college degree is essential for anyone who hopes to pursue a fulfilling and successful career (which is why I assume you’re here). The “allure” Tighe mentions is not that we could have an extra couple thousand dollars in the bank when we graduate. Rather, it is that every person in this country, whether they come from immigrant parents, a family of doctors or have been working since the eighth grade to help feed their family, could have the opportunity to further their education, receive the skills to help them succeed in life and come to a complete understanding of their place on this planet and what it means to be human.

In the sixth paragraph, Tighe writes, “we will be gone from these hallowed halls of higher learning long before this [free college] ever comes to fruition. So what do we get out of it, beside a lifetime of paying for government ‘freebees’?” What has Tighe received in return paying for the “freebees” that provide food and shelter to families who would otherwise starve? Has Tighe received anything from the grants that have been awarded to this university and many others to continue research on life-saving treatments? Since she has already graduated from high school, is Tighe against funding that as well?

Take this criticism for what it’s worth, but it is evident that Tighe does not understand what it means to take care of one’s neighbor. I challenge Tighe and everyone else reading this to reconsider our duty to our fellow American, let alone our fellow man.

Stephen Witkowski

Mount St. Mary’s University C’16

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