Op−Ed | Elizabeth Warren deserves the student vote
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 08:10
We’re coming down to the wire. Election Day is just around the corner. It’s no secret that voters cast their ballots according to their interests. So it’s okay to look at the political landscape, see what the candidates are offering — or not — and ask, “What’s in it for me?” Issues important to students have been a central part of the Massachusetts senate race and the choice couldn’t be clearer. Elizabeth Warren, if elected, will fight tirelessly for students to make sure they can attend school without graduating under a mountain of debt. Senator Scott Brown, however, has decided that students are important only when it’s politically convenient. He’s thrown our education system under the bus time and time again in order to remain in the good graces of the Republican leadership.
Elizabeth Warren has become a rock star among Tufts students as well as with students across the Commonwealth — and for good reason. During debates and on the campaign trail, Scott Brown has attempted to belittle Warren by giving her the unusual epithet of “professor.” This should come as no surprise. It shows how little regard he has for students and teachers. Of course, from a college student’s perspective, having a professor in the United States Senate might bring a new perspective to the debate over higher education.
Though she certainly has the political and legal know−how to draft effective public policy, Warren also has a unique understanding of the problems confronting our nation’s colleges. Personally, I’m glad to have a professor running for United States Senate. My professors at Tufts and Utah State have been inspiring, caring and intelligent. I have no doubt that Warren will be on the front lines fighting for students. I recently had the unique opportunity to join other Tufts students in meeting with Elizabeth Warren to discuss the challenges facing students and increasing education costs. She genuinely cares about this issue and will work for us every single day.
Unfortunately, Senator Brown doesn’t share Elizabeth Warren’s views on student issues. It’s true that he’ll say again and again that he supports students, but when deciding whether to vote for an incumbent, the best we can do is examine his record. And Scott Brown’s record says it all. Scott Brown, who attended Tufts with financial assistance, isn’t willing to pay it back. Instead of standing up for students he’s decided that Wall Street, Big Oil and Mitch McConnell are more important.
Throughout his time in the Senate, Scott Brown has voted against increasing the maximum Pell Grant awarded to college students. Even worse, he’s voted to cut the average Massachusetts student’s Pell Grant by $700. Further examination of his voting record shows more disregard for students. Brown has voted against student loan reform by opposing legislation that would increase support for federal student loan programs. When it was proposed that the government be the sole originator of student loans, thus lowering interest rates and costs for students, Senator Brown again voted in opposition. Scott Brown has shown an unwillingness to increase financial aid and streamline student loans. Brown has turned his back on the very programs — and principles — that allowed him to attend Tufts many years ago. Students need a fighter in the United States Senate, and Scott Brown is not that person.
The division between the two Senate candidates on student issues is crystal clear. Of course, there are numerous other reasons to vote for Elizabeth Warren, including her genuine support for women’s rights and fierce advocacy for the middle class. But whether you are at Tufts on full financial aid and working multiple jobs, whether your parents are able to pay for your entire education or whether you are somewhere in between, this issue affects all of us. Each of us has a friend who wouldn’t be able to receive a Tufts education if it wasn’t for Pell Grants, work−study or low interest rates on student loans. So when you go to vote on Nov. 6, consider Senator Brown’s record and ask yourself if he really represents you. Massachusetts voters deserve someone who represents our values. So as a student, a Bay Stater and conscientious citizen, I’ll be casting my vote for Elizabeth Warren. We simply cannot afford to keep politicians in office who refuse to stand up for students.
Taylor J. Barnard is a junior majoring in political science. He can be reached at Taylor.Barnard_Hawkins@tufts.edu.