Staff Editorial: Higher education should be a viable option for all socioeconomic classes

On Saturday Feb. 25, republican presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum responded to remarks made by President Barack Obama that encouraged all Americans to attend at least one year of higher education. Santorum said, "President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college; what a snob."

Santorum's comments demean the importance of higher education as well as offend those who choose to pursue higher learning. His conclusions are ignorant and misinformed.

Higher education should not be scoffed at or seen as a privilege for the upper-middle class. We support Obama's desire for all Americans – no matter their socioeconomic status – to have the opportunity to attend some kind of higher education, whether a university, vocational school, community college or otherwise.

Continuing your education in whatever capacity past the high school level to increase your marketability and number of job opportunities does not make you a "snob." There is nothing wrong with someone who chooses not to continue their education past high school, and there is certainly nothing wrong with pursuing a higher degree. What matters is that you have the option to choose which path you want to take. Higher education provides a wide array of opportunities, providing those working toward higher degrees with a greater realm of job options. 

Santorum continued, "There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor [who] tries to indoctrinate them." By insinuating that liberal colleges are simply indoctrinating students, Santorum expanded his earlier comments that the liberal university system is ruining America. He ignores the fact that there are also a large number of private, religious and conservative universities for students to attend. 

Additionally, in 2006 Santorum pushed for affordable college educations for all Pennsylvanians when he was senator. According to his website, "[he] supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable." His hypocrisy simply translates as a mindless attack on Obama's policies.

As we attend a fairly liberal college, it's offensive that we're a bunch of mindless drones to Rick Santorum. Santorum is correct in one sense: People naturally change in college. It's a place to learn, grow and become the person you want to be. On the other hand, these changes are not necessarily the result of "liberal indoctrination."  

Santorum's false impression of Obama's comments led to misguided conclusions. We fully support Obama's desire for higher education access for all Americans. The idea that higher education should not be something of luxury is one that should be understood, not only by Santorum, but everyone.