RamTown Tuition Prize Shows Fordham’s Disconnect with Students

Debt free tuition is a right not an impossible trick shot

By Kyle Zarif

Staff Fordham Critic

Taking into account room and board, Fordham’s current tuition is $67,457. That makes the total cost of a 4 year degree from Fordham $269,828, assuming you don’t have financial aid, live on campus all four years, and that the tuition doesn’t rise. RamTown offered a prize of one year of free tuition, still an unattainable amount for a college-aged student, for making a half-court shot. The extreme stupidity and insensitivity of an astronomically expensive private university offering one of the most unattainable things in America (debt free education) as a completely unfeasible prize at a pep rally should be enough to convince Fordham students that this University does not see them as anything but giant anthropomorphic piggy banks, if they haven’t realized this already.

The degree to which Fordham financially exploits its students is not unique, as tuition increases around the nation have driven 71% of all college students to graduate with some form of student loan debt. When we focus exclusively on private institutions like Fordham, the percentage rises to 75%, with the average debt somewhere around $32,000. With these percentages in mind, the idea that Fordham would give away tuition as some sort of unattainable prize is actually kind of fitting. As the majority of college students will graduate with debt anyway, the idea that free tuition is a kind of carnival prize at a rigged game doesn’t seem too far off from reality.

But this idea was met with almost total enthusiasm from most Fordham students I talked to. Almost everyone, when I asked them what they thought about the RamTown half-court shot, was excited at the opportunity to win free tuition, even though the odds were clearly stacked against them. But before seeing this as some act of generosity, we should all wonder where this money is coming from, and where it will now go since nobody won the prize. Fordham has repeatedly cited its finances as a reason for cutting all sorts of corners. The most relevant example being Fordham’s claim that any rise in adjunct faculty salary would have to correlate with yet another rise in tuition. This is coming from a school that pays its basketball coach more than its tenured faculty and that spends millions of dollars on endless additions to the Lincoln Center campus. If they apparently don’t have the money to pay contingent faculty above poverty wages, it’s hard to imagine where the nearly $40,000-60,000 in prize money came from in the first place.

This entire debacle has made me really think about the priorities of both the Fordham administration and its student body. Why are so many students so trusting of this University? Why are so many getting excited over the possibility of one student winning free tuition in a fucking contest at a pep rally, when the vast majority of students are graduating in debt and the University has been steadily increasing its tuition? For students, there doesn’t seem to be much to gain in this situation.

Debt free college shouldn’t be some carnival prize withheld from us from some sicko carny with missing teeth working the ring toss. It is an achievable political goal that has been posited even by mainstream politicians. In this vein, RamTown can serve as a perfect example of the apathy infecting many college campuses, including our own. The willingness of so many to dance for something we should all be entitled to shows a complete unwillingness to look critically at the institution we are funding with our tuition dollars. Debt free college should be a right for all, not some prize to be offered by a school that derives its profits from our exploitation.

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