Guest Writer: Dylan Roberts, University of Colorado-Boulder student, Contact: Dylan.Roberts@colorado.edu
How is this possible: ten leading candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States participated in a nationally-televised debate on the campus of a major public university and only one of them got asked about the number one issue facing college students across the country?
That issue is of course, the astounding increase in the cost of higher education and the massive student loan debt that results. It happened late in the debate when CNBC moderator Sharon Epperson asked Governor John Kasich of Ohio what he would do about the student debt issue should he become president. Governor Kasich is nowhere near being a front-runner in the GOP race. Yet, the chance to hear what one of the men actually likely to become the Republican nominee thought about this crucial issue never happened because the candidates quickly moved on to an issue they must have thought was much more important: fantasy football. Seriously.
That is not a joke. But what is laughable (although painfully unfortunate) is how this moment illustrates how much of a disservice this debate did to the CU student body. Many words have been yelled and ink has been spilled over the fact that only 150 CU students were able to attend the debate in person. However, what is much more egregious for CU is that they hosted a debate free-of-charge where the students watching heard almost nothing about student debt.
How could CU let this happen? If they are letting CNBC use our taxpayer and tuition-funded facilities for free, why could they not make sure that the network asks at least more than one of the candidates about a problem that leaves 70 percent of graduating seniors with student loan debt? The planning with CNBC and the Republican National Committee surely included negotiations about facilities, parking, security, food, and more. Is it so much to ask that the students in the audience and the many more watching in the UMC or at home what the people using their campus to be elected president would do about the issue that matters most to students?
The CU administration has been telling us for weeks that the “promotional value” of this debate will mean millions for our University even though there is absolutely no way to quantify that. CU could have added value to every single one of their students, and to students across this nation, by making sure the people that could become our next president got asked about what plans, if any, they had to address this problem.
The TV satellite trucks and campaign buses are long gone and the presidential race will quickly forget its time in Boulder – that was inevitable. However, what could have been left behind were answers from the candidates about student loan debt. Instead, CU is left with a big bill and no answers for its students.