A note from the editor

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A new semester brings a new editor of Basement Medicine.

I’d like to take this opportunity to speak to the importance of an issue near and dear to many of us here at Johnson State College: the existential crisis of affordable liberal arts education in this country.

I think sometimes it’s easy to for us to take for granted how special it is for a largely state-funded educational institution to have such a strong focus on the liberal arts. In this day and age, it is somewhat of a gamble. Everyone frets about the ‘employability’ of people who take advantage of this type of education. In fairness, in some respects I can see where they’re coming from:

A liberal arts education is not (and should not be) a strictly vocational one.

The most important thing that this type of education provides for a student has little to do with resumes or internships and everything to do with creating a well-rounded human being capable of independent thought and the capacity to think critically in life.

There is a tendency in this era to denigrate these highly important skills, and I really think that’s a shame. People seem to think that if you’re low income (and there are plenty of us here at JSC) your time is better spent learning straightforward job skills and nothing else.

It’s probably cliché to say this, but that’s exactly how you wind up with a society of sheeple who don’t think for themselves and indeed who lose the ability to even recognize what they’ve lost.

In a similar vein, it’s likely that the decision by the VSC board to not raise tuition at JSC next year will be reversed soon. We should keep in mind that the VSC is basically being forced to do this out of desperation—the money just won’t be there otherwise.

That’s not to say, however, that we students shouldn’t be mad. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: students in this country are being screwed. The commitment of our government (federal and state) to funding higher education is legitimately an international embarrassment. History will not look favorably at those choices.

We should actually single out Vermont as being particularly egregious on this issue—after all, we’re ranked 49 out of 50 for state funding of higher education. I think many Vermont citizens will be surprised to learn that, but it’s true. It’s a clear enough message for young people trying to earn an education here: “we don’t care about you.” I know that’s not the message most Vermonters want us to hear, but talk is cheap and funding is what actually matters.

 

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