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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

OSU student debt protest and gay Republican reflect changing times

OSU student debt protests, Barometer Mar. 3, 2015, p. 1

PHOTO: Oregon State University students protest the new situation of students going into debt to pay for college. The old model was in the 1970's when the State of Oregon would subsidize tuition just enough so that a typical student job was sufficient to pay for college without going into debt. Over the last few decades, Oregon legislators compromised with Republicans and defunded much of the taxpayers' subsidy in favor of a Republican sponsored plan to give students low-cost loans, which were a good bargain back when interest rates were high, but today these loans are merely an excuse for the State to pay less. (See student newspaper article by Abigail Erickson, "Student groups protest debt," Oregon State University Barometer, Mar. 3, 2015, p. 1 and the professional local newspaper article by Bennett Hall, "OSU students protest cost of higher ed," posted Mar. 3, 2015, which reported, "Bringing up the rear were three demonstrators supporting a large, puppet-like figure in the likeness of a top-hatted and monocled capitalist, dubbed Mr. 1 Percent."

UPDATE 3/5/15 - Editorial Board, "Students shouldn’t be punished with debt," OSU The Daily Barometer, Mar. 5, 2015, p. 7 posted Mar. 4, 2015 - The editorial notes that liberal arts majors are more impacted by the debt than engineering majors, who can make more money after graduation, and the fact that students can no longer earn their way with a job because college is too expensive. END OF UPDATE 3/5/15

I've written before on how Republicans have shifted the cost of college to students by compromising with Democrats in order to create so-called low-interest student loans. (See previous post Cost of OSU outpaced inflation letter to the editor (11/5/14) )

The recent student protests at OSU concerning the cost of college that is leaving students in debt at graduation, are eerily reminiscent of 1930's and 1960's student protests, which were violently repressed by the establishment. These most recent protests reflect a changing mood on the Corvallis, Oregon State University campus where the student population has traditionally been more conservative than the students at the rival University of Oregon 40 miles down the road in Eugene.

An example of this type of student conservativism at OSU is reflected in the column written by a gay-friendly OSU student who is advocating the Republicans become friendlier to gay people. The student says, "I believe that Republicans need to embrace LGBT Rights, especially concerning marriage equality. . . My recommendations are that the GOP needs to embrace groups like the Log Cabin Republicans and formerly GOProud as good conservatives and make them welcome at events. . . In an age when fewer young people are getting married, the LGBT community is making marriage cool again, and I could not be happier about it." (See Jacob Vandever, "Grand Old Party 2.0, Part one: GOP LGBT Relations," posted Feb. 18, 2015)

This young student may not realize the historical connection he has with the former Oregon State University Professor W. Door Legg, who founded the Log Cabin Republicans and was a famous pre-Stonewall homophile rights activist. (See previous post W. Dorr Legg OSU archives records 1935-1942 (7/31/10))

This student's suggestions for the GOP are not radical as they were just a few years ago, as evidenced by recent moves in the Republican Party. For example, read the blog post by Timothy Kincaid, "CA GOP recognizes Log Cabin," posted Mar. 2, 2015.

However, when looked at over a Century, the shift in opinion is amazing. An example of this shift can be seen in one of the scholarly publications edited by W. Dorr Legg, which included a reprint of the typical advice fathers were given to deal with their homosexual sons. (See blog post by Jim Burroway, "60 YEARS AGO: Minnesotans Respond To A Father's Letter: 1955," posted The Daily Agenda for Sunday, March 1)

A loosely related note is the new OSU student center building opening that provides an incredible example of student debt being used to be finance new campus buildings, which used to be paid for with tax-exempt state bonds bought by rich alumni who wanted to avoid state taxes. Instead, this new OSU building is being financed via a loan that is being paid off with a special student fee. (See Bennett Hall, "New student center filling up," posted Mar. 3, 0215, which says, "The grand opening is still more than a month away, but the new Student Experience Center at Oregon State University is filling up rapidly. . . The $46.5 million complex is being paid for entirely with student fees, as is a recently completed, $11 million renovation to the east wing of the neighboring Memorial Union, the other main venue on campus for student activities. A $48-per-term fee, approved by a student vote in 2010, will pay down the debt. The fee will drop after 20 years, when the MU renovations are paid off, then disappear entirely after 30 years.")

Finally, please note that the stroke I had about a month ago appears to have taken more of my vision and strength on my right side -- a result, I will probably be much slower in posting in the future, but I am just glad to still be alive.