Lehigh students and faculty are responding differently to President Donald Trump’s recent vow to fix the growing issue of student debt.
Frank Davis, a professor in the political science department, said he believes that Trump’s Department of Education should publish more information about the new programs.
“They are doing away with programs that help students get gainful employment,” Davis said. “They are defaulting to for-profits. For-profits are more focused on their programs and not the students. The bigger problem of defaulting to for-profits is getting rid of programs meant for student development.”
Krisana Goel, ’22, a member of College Democrats, believes that this is a good step forward coming about in the wrong way.
“I think that it’s a good idea for the government to try and alleviate some of the debt students have to pay, but I don’t think limiting the amount of funding for students is the right way because it will keep low income students out of private universities,” Goel said.
Goel said she wants the government to publish more information about programs and student debt in hopes that there will be more transparency between the government and the people.
Alexander Lidonnici, ’22, a member of the College Republicans, believes this proposal will help unite Republicans on campuses nationwide.
“The main idea of the proposal isn’t to combat wealth inequality, it’s to combat free speech,” Lidonnici said.
Lidonnici said he believes that campuses nowadays tend to lean left, and as a result, they frown upon certain types of speech that don’t fall into this category. He said Trump is attempting to give everyone a voice, regardless of political views.
Goel and Davis both believe that Trump doesn’t care so much about the students as much as losing ground.
College students would be more willing to support the president, Goel said, if he cared to listen to what students had to say and tried to solve their issues. However, Goel said a lot of students did vote for Trump in the last election.
“He thinks that the Democrats are gaining ground with millennials and the younger groups, and he is trying to fix that problem by seeming concerned with education,” Davis said.
Students are increasingly concerned about how low-income students will be affected.
In order to combat this issue, Davis said Trump should provide some form of cheaper education for lower income families.
“I would say one solution is to provide higher education to people for free,” Davis said. “It is not necessarily Lehigh or Harvard, but at least public community colleges that are concerned with student success.”
In terms of how this will affect Lehigh, Davis, Goel and Lidonnici all said that they do not believe this will affect the core student population because it is a private school with a smart, educated and involved student body.
“I think Lehigh draws from a wealthier demographic, like most private institutions,” Lidonnici said. “You would see it have more of an effect on state schools.”
Davis said he believes Lehigh will rise above this ongoing issue, since students are “aware and better prepared.”
Ultimately, Davis, Goel and Lidonnici said Trump is addressing an important issue in hopes of attracting a younger demographic. They do not believe this proposal will pass through Congress and be put into place before the next election cycle.
“I think it is a turn-around for him because he hasn’t really spoken about this in the past,” Lidonnici said. “I think he is trying to appeal to a younger audience because he did not attract that demographic in the last election. This shows maturity because he is talking about more issues that are plaguing America, not just the ones he campaigned with.”