It is almost college bowl season, folks! As we approach this most wondrous time of the year, let's remember that the purpose of universities is not to train the next generation of professional athletes but to educate students for the workplace, for life, and for independent thought. The purpose of universities is to generate technological innovation and basic theoretical knowledge, to create great art and challenging literature. The purpose of universities is to generate economic, cultural, and social benefit for our states and the nation. These are tasks that they do surprisingly well.
As this NPR segment explains, the tax reform effort in congress threatens these fundamental purposes, especially as it could impact the graduate students who are essential to ALL of the tasks listed above. Universities and colleges are not perfect; the people who work there are often higher-education's harshest critics. Nevertheless, the solution to making them better is NOT to create new tax burdens on those individuals, the students, who have the least amount of power to influence institutional decisions.
Use this URL to find the phone number of your GOP Representative and urge them, today, to keep the provisions that target higher education OUT of the tax reform bill.
If we are comfortable, as a society, in arguing that the wealthiest Americans deserve a tax break and that major corporations, which already make substantial profits, deserve tax relief, then we shouldn't feel guilty saying: "Universities and students should be protected from an increased tax burden!" These institutions employ approximately 4 million people, more than many sectors of our economy. They are not separate from society; they are inherent to our society.
Now go enjoy your popcorn with that bowl game.