The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Higher education cost a “primary” concern with students

Rising tuition costs and decreased funding for education have been controversial issues in Wisconsin in recent memory. Soon, voters will have a chance to make their voices heard in the April 3 Republican primary election.UW-Eau Claire Sophomore Miranda Pagenkopf said that when choosing a presidential candidate this year, rising tuition costs as an Eau Claire student will be her main concern.“It’s hard when you need an education to get a good job nowadays, and you have to pay so much to…get to where you want to be,” Pagenkopf said.Pagenkopf is not unlike many other students, who will be hit from the increased tuition costs with lighter pockets in the coming years.

The rising cost of education is one of many major issues being considered by Eau Claire students as they plan to vote in the April 3 election. The ballots, along with Eau Claire School Board and City Council races, will include the GOP primary election.

Although the cuts going toward the UW system are more of a state-level issue, stances on education in broader terms being taken by the Republican candidates help students like Pagenkopf determine who students will vote for based on this more general criteria.

Geoffrey Peterson, a political science professor, said the Republican candidates have not spent a lot of time on education as of yet, but there has been a small amount of discussion on the topic.

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Romney has stated he wants to help families save for college rather than focus on direct government assistance, according to an article.

Gingrich has not been focusing too much on education, Peterson said, but he did point out that Gingrich at one point in his career was a college professor.

Santorum on the other hand has said some more specific things on higher education.

“There’s a sort of anti-intellectualism to (Santorum’s) position,” Peterson said. “He has said some things recently about how Obama wants to send everyone to college and he thinks that is a bad idea.”

Peterson said that candidates usually won’t outright state they support cutting funding towards schools, but they may phrase it differently.

“Anyone who campaigns on a ‘we are not going to raise any taxes, we’re just going to cut programs’ platform is effectively saying one of those things getting cut is aid to students,” Peterson said. “So the more Santorum talks about higher education being ‘bad,’ that’s a way of saying we don’t need to fund it.”

Ron Paul, according to the LA Times website, has said he wants to eliminate the Department of Education and end any federal role of education entirely.

Of course, not every student looks at the cuts to the UW system as inherently evil. For example, junior Chairman of the UW-Eau Claire College Republicans Tim Duffy said that at a time of budget deficits it is necessary for universities to be able to take their share of cuts.

“In tough economic times imposing a deficit is a problem in all areas of the economy,” Duffy said. People with thinner budgets have to start doing more with less.”

Duffy said he is still unsure of which candidate he will ultimately vote for, but is leaning towards Romney because of his electability and stance on economic issues.

Pagenkopf said she is also unsure of who she will support on April 3, but the winner of the Republican nomination is important since it will determine whether she will support Obama again in the November general election.

Other students like sophomore Steve Searing do not plan on voting at all regardless of the changes they will be seeing in tuition costs.

“I don’t know a lot about politics, so I try not to get involved,” Searing said. “I know people vote because it’s their right… but I’ve just never been interested in politics.”

The Republican primary election being held in Wisconsin is an open election, meaning any voting citizen in the state can choose a Republican presidential candidate regardless of their political party affiliation.

The way Wisconsin will distribute its 42 delegates to the presidential candidates, according to a March 18 Wisconsin State Journal online article*, is by the overall winner receiving 18 and three delegates being rewarded to the winner of each of the eight U.S. Congressional districts.

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    concernedMay 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Duffy is plain wrong on this. He should transfer to a different school if he does not realize that the cuts made to the UW-System are a problem, hope he likes paying more and more each year

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Higher education cost a “primary” concern with students