Four faculty and staff led a panel discussion with students following a screening of the documentary “Ivory Tower” on Oct. 27.
The documentary focused on the rising student debt crisis and questioned the importance of higher education in the midst of the crippling debt. Following students who have lost free tuition at their colleges, such as Cooper Union, and students at Harvard who receive full tuition, this documentary questions the general increase in tuition rate, which is over 1120% in the past 40 years.
After President Reagan’s multiple speeches on individual responsibility and college requiring individual responsibly via paying their way through higher education, government has limited their federal support for colleges and universities. This backlash has led to billions of dollars in profit on behalf of the federal government, and individual student debt surpassing one trillion dollars.
“There’s a degree of a mutual relationship, and colleges have done a really crummy job of putting up resistance to society’s expectations to provide amenities to students,” History professor William McCoy said first after the documentary ended, beginning the panel discussion.
The panelists−McCoy, Professor Montague Williams of the Religion department, Dr. Carrie Read Spray of the Chemistry department, and Vice President of Student Development, Jeff Kirksey−remarked on the passion for education and the mentality that students need to become aware and not continue to be passive in the decisions at their school.
As for advice for students in the future, even at ENC, Williams remarked that students need to “be aware of decision-making at various levels of the college.”
“Do the homework and become aware of the way in which decisions are made, and which decisions are important,” Williams said.
While the film depicted former students who have completely bypassed higher education, the panelists seemed to agree that while this is a viable option, our culture requires a certain amount of education to continue in the work force.
“Even the startups in Silicon Valley, in the hacker houses [depicted in the film], the leaders of those have college degrees. They are not coming from a place without a degree. A lot of fields require a degree and a diploma,” Read Spray commented.
Senior Maegan Bourne attended the screening and participated in the panel. While she was affected by the documentary, she also had a motivational outlook on the film’s contents.
“I only wish there were more students there to see it. It was a good reminder for me that I need to make the best of my time at ENC because of this broken system,” Bourne said.