The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

During my senior year of high school, I applied to nine schools, dreaming vaguely of cinematic ivy-clad private schools. But when I received the acceptance envelope from UNC, my heart knew where I belonged: the public university where quality and financial possibility are equally paramount.

And I have never looked back.

But in light of Chancellor Holden Thorp’s recent announcement to resign, there’s been a conversation on campus about the enormous influence the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy wields on decisions about future chancellorship.

Once you begin looking into the values promoted by the Pope Center, an alarming vision for higher education emerges. Namely, that it can only be reasonably afforded by those whose parents can pay for it upfront without loans. Rising tuition and student debt, according to its website, is propagated by the mantra “college for all,” along with “excessive student aid.”

In an article by George Leef published by the Pope Center, he recommends that federal student aid programs should be phased out and rationalizes this, in another article, by saying that students should not receive financial aid because they won’t work hard.

Does this language sound familiar? It might, if you watched a video released earlier this week of Mitt Romney speaking at a campaign dinner. He spoke dismissively of the 47 percent who “believe that they are victims.” It is a distorted, misguided trope to argue that people who receive assistance don’t work hard.

Friends — as a student and as a waitress — I could not disagree more vehemently.

I have worked a litany of weird jobs all through high school and college in order to graduate without debt. But I still needed financial aid. And yet, I have enough optimism and self-respect to believe that being at UNC will someday lead to a higher-paying job, enabling me to give far more back to the economy than if I had not gone to college.

I will graduate in May deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been here and to be able to go out and give back to North Carolina.

By mid-September, talk of politics is like old coffee that has been sitting out too long. We’re sick of it. And yet, it is impossible to not draw parallels between worldviews espoused by the likes of Mitt Romney and Art Pope.

One worldview is farther away on Capitol Hill, but the other worldview — it hits home. If this perspective, which dualistically divides people through an Ayn Rand paradigm of “givers” and “takers,” had determined whether I could come to college, I wouldn’t be here. And as a community, it’s our responsibility to make sure these philosophies don’t dominate our University decisions.

This is not an exaggerated portrait; it’s true for me and countless others who are here because this University followed through on its promise that, yes, college is for all.

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