Look Out Washington

Oct 102004
Authors: Ben Bleckley

There have been enough articles, essays and speeches thus far on

how important it is for students to vote. And so, students have

registered. The New Voters Project has registered 308,145 new

voters. A poll on RamPoint shows 91.9 percent of the 761 students

who responded are registered as of Saturday. Inflatable donkeys and

massive blue Bush signs have taken over the Lory Student Center

Plaza. It would seem that “Generation Whatever” is poised to rock

the vote.

But our most critical test still lies ahead. It is one thing to

register, and another issue completely to vote – to set aside time

to educate ourselves on the issues, watch the debates, read the

blue books and then find that half-hour in our day to wait in line,

punch a few buttons or fill a few bubbles. It sounds so easy. But

for so many Americans, it is so difficult. And does one person’s

vote really count in a nation of 230 million?

Our entire electoral process is utilized through strength in

numbers. No one needs to realize this truth more than people in our

age group. We’re having a hard time because we don’t have the

numbers to get people to listen to us.

Three issues affect all of us:


Tuition is on the rise. According to Losing Ground, a report

issued by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher

Education “tuition at public four-year colleges and universities

represented 13 percent of income for the lowest-income families in

1980. In 2000, tuition at these colleges and universities equaled

25 percent of their income.”

We’ve seen even greater increases in the past four years. Just

last week the Board of Governors for the CSU System gave

preliminary approval for a 21 percent increase in tuition for

in-state students. This comes to about $265 more. Out-of-state

students could see an increase of 5 percent or $676.

Health Care

My fianc�e recently turned 22. While the change can be

depressing after the great birthdays of 16, 18 and 21, 22 turned

out to be another landmark. She lost the health insurance coverage

of her parents. So now she pays more than $600 for health care at

Hartshorn Health Service and $250 worth of prescription drug


The United States is the only industrialized country without

universal health care. According to the National Center for Health

Statistics, 26.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 have no usual

source of health insurance. Those of us who do possess health care

aren’t getting it as a benefit through the full-time job at which

we’re not working.

Working Students

Those of us who don’t have scholarships and end up paying our

own way work really hard. Twenty hours a week at Starbucks or

McDonalds is not the general dream job. Then the government takes

what seems like a fourth out of each paycheck. Wouldn’t it be nice

if students working to pay for tuition and living expenses were

completely tax-exempt?

While a huge majority of us are registered, no one is going to

care unless we get to the voting booths on Nov. 2. If we don’t make

our voice heard this time around, it’ll be another four years

before anyone cares what we have to say.

Ben Bleckley is a junior English major. His column runs every

Monday in the Collegian.

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