Election issues focus on tuition

Brandon Hansen

Throughout September and October, organizations encouraging students to register to vote have become a common sight for students.

So far, an estimated 550 students at Northern Michigan University have registered to vote in Michigan through the “1 Million Votes for 2014” program, according to Megan Keith, president of the College Democrats.

The program, created by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, aims to increase the number of voters throughout the country.

They are also working to dispel myths about registration, such as the myth that students are not able to use their dorm room as a permanent address.

“We want to register democrats, but everyone should be registered to vote, as it supports democracy in general,” Keith said.

With two candidates fiercely contesting for the position of governor in this election, a lot of emphasis is being placed on creating new voters.

Keith said decisions regarding merit based funding, affordability, cuts in higher education and the Pell Grant can be improved through voting for elected officials.

These issues relate to an increase or decrease in tuition cost and financial aid assistance.

Universities throughout Michigan can expect to see a greater effort in generating votes and voters from both parties as higher education is factored into political campaigns.

“Students are still developing their ideas and we all want a better future no matter what party we are in,” Ian Carry, vice president of the College Republicans, said.

A recent document published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, entitled States Are Still Funding Higher Education Below Pre-Recession Levels, affirms that 48 states throughout the country are still spending less per student than they did before the 2008 economic recession, with Alaska and North Dakota being the exception.

Presently, Michigan has seen a decrease in state student spending by 28.2 percent from the fiscal year of 2008 through 2014, which is the most severe cuts among the Great Lakes states, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. These reductions, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues, has a direct effect on the price of tuition and the quality of education for public colleges and universities.

“Students need to pick the right people,” Carry said. “The state economy is up to their discretion. Right now Michigan is on the up and up.”

Both candidates vying for governor have approached the issue of higher education through an extension of their economic plan. 

Republican incumbent Rick Snyder’s Road to Recovery campaign stresses the importance of higher education and affordable college, presenting it as a vital part for the “reinvention of Michigan.”

Although Gov. Snyder was in office during the cuts to higher education in Michigan’s post-recession years, his campaign website addresses that Michigan’s “comeback” relies on both a strong economy and a successful education system

Likewise, democratic challenger Mark Schauer has stressed the importance of investing in higher education in his “Jobs Plan.” Schauer’s plan seeks to reinvest Michigan’s income into community colleges, universities and trade schools to allow Michigan residents to compete for better jobs and strengthen the state’s economy, according to Schauer’s “Blueprint: A Michigan That Works for Everyone.”

This election will forecast the direction Michigan will take in the post-recession years and both new and returning voters on campus can take an interest in the elected process. Some students on campus are taking note of these predictions.

“I plan to vote because I think it’s our duty as citizens,” Sydney Landers, a senior political science and economics double major, said. “Nationally, I’m concerned about the economy over social issues because I’m concerned about getting a job when I graduate.”

The election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 4 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the voting station is located at the Marquette Armory on Lincoln Street.