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Student Political groups speculate on election's impact on colleges

By Elizabeth Bowling
On November 9, 2012

  • UConn sophomore running back Lyle McCombs runs down the field past a University at Buffalo defender during last weekend’s football game. KEVIN SCHELLER/The Daily Campus

UConn College Democrats and Republicans said President Obama will impact the cost of college tuition differently than Gov. Mitt Romney would have.
Molly Rockett, the president of UConn College Democrats, said Obama is an advocate for student loans and college affordability. Sarah Aldrich, social media chair for UConn College Republicans, said college students probably favored Obama over Romney because of this. But, Aldrich said, had Romney been elected, he may have been better-suited to offer universities incentives to cut costs.
"The universities themselves should find ways to become more efficient and to cut costs so that students don't have to get more loans. It's just a never-ending cycle," Aldrich said.
Rockett said healthcare implementation by 2014 was a major fight for Obama in his first term, but in his second term, he promised to focus on education and investing in educational systems starting in elementary school and going all the way up to college. A particular focus will probably be strengthening public education systems and making college more achievable, affordable and accessible, she said.
But in comparing Obama to his former opponent, Rockett, a 4th-semester political science major, said, "I think the starkest contrast for college students between President Obama and Romney, which I think swayed a lot of people's votes, was Romney's stance on social issues, especially on women's issues."
Access to contraception through healthcare providers was an important social issue to many young women in college that Romney did not support, Rockett said. Romney's position on contraception and abortion wavered throughout his campaign, perhaps making him unappealing to college-aged women voters, she said.
Obama's stance on women's issues, in addition to tuition costs, has had an impact on college campuses.
But Aldrich believed Romney's policies would have been more beneficial for college students than Obama's. Aldrich, a 6th-semester business management major, said if Obama allows the government to continue providing student loans, universities will continue to raise tuition costs knowing that students can afford the increased prices.
"For a long-term solution," Aldrich said, "in the actual principle of making things easier for students, I think it's better to cut costs in the education system."
Aldrich said she does not support cutting the Department of Education. Rather, some university expenses, like construction, should be reduced, she said. But if the government continues to provide loans to students, universities will have no incentive to lower tuition costs, she said.
UConn political science professor Ronald Schurin said, "Govenor Romney basically called for sharply reducing, if not eliminating, government support for domestic activities that he regarded as 'non-essential.'"
The extent to which higher education would have been regarded as a non-essential domestic activity is unclear, Schurin said.

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