Q&A with Ben Rudin, the ASUO’s law school senator
ASUO Senator Ben Rudin talks about the problems students face with rising tuition and a shrinking job market. In the interview, he gives his opinion on debt, student loans and whether college is even worth it.
Why are you interested in law?
I’ve always loved politics and they definitely do go together. While I love politics — and by that I mean the government — I hate politics, as in decisions being made for political benefits.
How do you feel about rising tuition and debt, and a diminishing job market being paired with increasing revenue for Oregon universities?
Well like any student, I would say it’s awful. The decreasing job market makes some wonder if college is really worth it. Many people directly enter the work force, that is definitely a way some people choose. It’s only going to happen because the cost of education has gone up and the returns have gone down. It’s not the guaranteed job it used to be. I mean it ultimately depends on (whether they are) spending it on what students want when there is basically very much reduced competition based on the price. Student loans that have made demand very inelastic.
Do you think going into the workforce without the experience of college would be better than paying college tuition and then going into the work force?
I honestly don’t know and will never know. I am certainly not fond of telling people ‘If they don’t go to college, they’re be screwed for the rest of their lives’ because many people do go to college and are screwed for the rest of their lives, and many people don’t go to college and they do fine.
What do you think the University of Oregon should do about this big issue?
I have been informed of new partnerships,although that wouldn’t lower tuition from what I understand — it would just stop it from increasing. The inflation would naturally cost less in real dollars. As to what else to do about tuition; this isn’t the typical answer you’d get from a student, but I think one thing we need to work on is that making sure students have some idea of what they want to do with their life before they go to college. Something I learned in high school was most people will pick a college, then pick a major, then pick a career but it should be the other way. Pick a career, pick a major and then pick a college. Another problem, and this may be heresy, but when schools can raise their tuition to whatever they want and students will still pay it because the student loan companies will cover it, they are naturally going to be less concerned with the price.
Ann Aiken, U.S. District Court of Oregon chief judge said “the current higher education system has become untenable and unsustainable; as a result, increasing numbers of students will be forced to file for bankruptcy.” Can you respond to that, keeping law school in mind?
It’s certainly not right, and again, I would argue that because the way student loans are given out, like making demand for education very inelastic, or in simpler terms, the demand for education doesn’t really go down when the price goes up because the universities are the ones getting the main benefit from the government student loans. Schools aren’t competing on price; they’re competing on quality, and since they know that students are just going to pass on the costs to their debt companies, they’re naturally going to try to make the university as attractive as possible and therefore raise the revenue to spend money on things that we don’t really need.
Do you think the academic level of UO Law matches the price tag?
Ask me in 5 years. It’s because I’m not out in the work force yet, I can’t answer that yet.
How do you plan on getting a job after college?
I would narrow it down based on what I would be happy doing and then just work on my applications from there and see if I know anyone in those areas and so on.
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