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Wednesday, April 19: Free Choice (No GB meeting)
Rosie Moss provides insight on Governor Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship plan.
On Wednesday April 12, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Excelsior Scholarship plan, a program provides free tuition at all public two-year and four-year colleges in New York for any family that makes $125,000 or less per year. The plan was created as a way to allow middle and low income families greater access to higher education, particularly by reducing the number of loans that these families are forced to take out in order to pay for college.
Though this program will have an immense impact on many middle class families in New York, several critics argue that it ignores those who are most in need: low income families. The argument that these critics make is that even though removing tuition takes off a large financial burden, the plan fails to account for the other costs associated with college, such as room and board. That being said, the program does appropriate $8 million for “open educational resources,” which essentially means copyright-free textbooks, often in electronic format, for those students who qualify for the program.
Another criticism of the plan is that the students who receive subsidies for tuition are required to stay in New York for four years after graduating, or their subsidies will turn into loans. Critics argue that this caveat of the plan prevents students from participating in the national labor market, which limits the opportunities available to these students upon graduation. On the other hand, however, proponents of the residency requirement believe that it is the only way to protect the state’s investment, by ensuring that students who receive tuition subsidies eventually give back to the economy of New York, rather than another state.
Though the plan is far from perfect, it is certainly a major step in the right direction. Education should be treated as a right and not a commodity, so making higher education more accessible to middle and low income families is a huge achievement.
Hannah Mitlak debriefs the complications of Georgia’s recent election.
This past Tuesday night witnessed an odd phenomenon of our democratic process. Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District held a special election for a recently vacated House seat, and in the process garnered national attention. FiveThirtyEight dubbed the race “an early test of whether Democrats can ride a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to win traditionally red seats.” The final vote tally had Democrat Jon Ossoff at 48.1% in a district that last sent a Democrat to the House in 1979.
Since this was a primary race, Ossoff will have to compete again in a June election against the runner-up, Republican Karen Handel, who won 19.8% of the vote. These figures may seem promising for the Democrats, but the truth is Ossoff’s best shot at victory was winning in the primary with over 50% of the vote. The primary field had the GOP vote splintered by 11 candidates, while the runoff June election will see more unity on the conservative end. Still there is hope for Ossoff: in 2016 Trump won Georgia with 48% of the vote, but Romney won it with 61% in 2012, and McCain won with 62% four years earlier. More than simply a referendum on Trump, Georgia may be the first (or perhaps just the most visibly) of many southern states to turn from red to a promising shade of purple just in time for midterm elections.