Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Edifice Complex on College Campuses

If you live near a college or university, have you noticed how much construction of new buildings is going on? The university I attended has covered almost every inch of empty space on its property with magnificent new buildings. Many colleges have declining enrollments, so to attract students, some colleges are building lavish quarters and amenities such as dorms with single rooms and private baths and state-of-the-art fitness centers. Some people call this the Edifice Complex. That's a play on the name of a character in Greek mythology who had an unnatural obsession. Many universities have handsome endowments, and name the building for a generous donor who contributed to it, but many are borrowing money for this lavish construction. The New York Times reported that Moody's credit rating agency says that 500 elite institutions have doubled their debt in the last ten years.

College enrollments have been declining. I doubt that students are attracted to college by all this luxury. Cost is a much bigger factor with students and their parents. Student indebtedness because of college loans has reached a critical $1 trillion mark. Default rates on college loans are at an all-time high. Job prospects for college graduates are dismal. This is all causing students to reconsider attending the high-priced universities.

It's all so unnecessary. When I attended the Harvard Graduate School, students sat in class on hard straight chairs. We didn't have desks in the classroom. We took our notes on a long straight piece of wood used in common by a whole row of students, on which students for generations has carved their initials.

The Edifice Complex is contributing to higher tuition and fees for students and to the burden on taxpayers through the funding of state universities. Taxpayers are also left on the hook when students are unable to replay their loans.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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