Arizona Daily Wildcat Online
Front Page
· Columnists
· Men's Hoops
Go Wild
Live Culture
Police Beat
Special Sections
Photo Spreads
The Wildcat
Letter to the Editor
Wildcat Staff
Job Openings
Advertising Info
Student Media
Arizona Student Media Info
Student TV
Student Radio
The Desert Yearbook
Daily Wildcat Staff Alumni

Use service requirement to silence tuition crybabies

Dillon Fishman
By Dillon Fishman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, February 21, 2005
Print this

Nearly every year, the UA raises tuition. And, almost reflexively, students respond with sobs, moans and foot-stomping. "Tuition is too high." "Life's not fair." "Waah."

One group has even filed suit against the state of Arizona over tuition increases. No, I haven't read their legal briefs, and I don't plan to waste my time with such gibberish.

This illustrates how wrongly students view our education system and our society. More broadly, it shows how warped our priorities have become. The clamor for "my rights" and "what about poor little me" springs from a tacit assumption that has become deeply ingrained in the consciousness of America's youth: We want rights, but no corresponding responsibilities. This is the new culture, the society of "me first."

When future historians - those anomalous people who will still actually read and write books - reflect on this sad generation, they'll discuss a generation of takers and complainers. "Duty," "service" and "community" are the next targets in the political correctness war - first censored from our vernacular, then purged from our lives altogether.

Crybabies, five words: Stop whining and grow up.

First let's discuss the contested tuition hikes. Education isn't supposed to be free; there's no right to an education. Go ahead, grab a copy of the U.S. Constitution. It ain't in there.

Newsflash to students suing Arizona: You're wasting Arizona tax dollars on paying the salaries of lawyers who'll defend the state against your lawsuit, which is clogging the already-congested Court of Appeals' docket.

Suck it up, crybabies.

The fact is, tuition will rise along with inflation, the cost of living and the increased demand for college degrees. Compare the UA's tuition to other public schools and you'll find relatively low prices for solid, acclaimed academic programs. Don't forget cheap rates for top programs in medicine, pharmacy and law. Leave aside the astronomical disparity between private school tuition and the UA's tuition for comparable programs, and the fact that students at the UA already receive an approximately $8,000 annual government tuition subsidy. Try writing a check for $32,000 for one year's tuition at a private school, and then we'll talk.

Remember, like many things Americans take for granted, public education is a privilege, not a right. Immigrants often understand this; the crybaby generation doesn't.

The problem runs deeper than bemoaning tuition. The crybabies are exemplars of a generational pandemic. Americans today feel an unparalleled sense of entitlement, observable not just in this generation's talk - "What about my rights?" - but in our actions and lack thereof.

Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam explains that Americans today join fewer social organizations, interact less with friends and family, and have become increasingly disengaged from political and civic life. In a telling book entitled "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," Putnam details this problem with copious statistics and interviews. The upshot of Putnam's message is this: America's social problems are strongly associated with our atomized, isolated, disconnected lives. And in turn, that flows partially from the view that social problems are everyone else's responsibility. The "me first" mentality has harmful ramifications.

UA administrators, here's a modest proposal for the tuition crybabies. As the prattling over tuition becomes louder, create more responsibilities. For instance, start requiring students to do community service. Kill two birds with one stone. Students will then realize how good life was before, and they'll become directly involved with confronting and addressing today's civic and community problems.

According to Putnam, the very act of engaging helps to combat atomization and apathy. That is to say, just getting students off of their butts and onto their feet working on community problems would be hugely beneficial. Heck, it could even help combat the obesity problem.

Here's the really insidious part: This might actually teach students some values - yes, the dirty "V" word - such as selflessness, sacrifice and cooperation.

Numerous school districts across the country have already implemented community service requirements and with great success. Though most evidence is still anecdotal, reports are overwhelmingly positive.

For example, Maryland instituted a community service requirement in its public schools. Maricopa County, which contains some of the nation's largest and best community colleges, such as Mesa Community College, has taken similar strides in developing "service learning" programs.

The UA should follow these progressive school districts and implement a community service requirement directly into the core academic curriculum.

Let's mobilize the obvious energy surplus of the crybaby generation into service for the community and country. That way, instead of just mindlessly slapping on trendy "Support the Troops" bumper stickers, people can actually do their part right here at home.

Or maybe the crybabies can just agree to stop whining about tuition.

Dillon Fishman is a third-year law student. He can be reached at

Write a Letter to the Editor
Time to drop tuition lawsuit
Use service requirement to silence tuition crybabies
Online Mailbag
Restaurant and Bar Guide
Housing Guide
Search for:
advanced search Archives


Webmaster -
Copyright 2005 - The Arizona Daily Wildcat - Arizona Student Media