To the Editor:
Brad Lipton’s comments on Yale’s increase in tuition (“Tuition hikes OK if shouldered by rich students,” Feb. 25) seem ill-considered.
Regardless of whether progressive tuition would help middle-class students, it remains unjust to charge people of different means different rates for the same product.
Imagine being charged more at Gourmet Heaven for a Jolt Cola owing to one’s parents’ financial success. Some people refuse to condemn something as discrimination if it targets the rich.
Perhaps some will take issue with the analogy, placing college in a category by itself.
Lipton mentions that “unlike bread, cars, or houses, college is something our society tries to make available to all,” which is a debate for another time.
Accepting his assumption that we should make college available to everyone, it does not follow that we should make each college available to everyone.
Let us say that we all, even conservatives, want people to have enough food to eat — how they get it is another debate.
Some people cannot afford filet mignon; we should not tamper with its price so that the poorest — or even the object of Lipton’s fixation, the beleaguered middle class — can afford it.
Especially not when hamburger is perfectly serviceable.
If the tuition increase proves too much for the middle class, to quote Lipton, “[t]hat’s why we have subsidized ‘state schools’ and Stafford loans.”
And Lipton’s notion that Yale could convince other top schools to adopt similar policies so that we may remain competitive in admissions numbers is naive.
Another sensible school would rightly take advantage of the free market and, by retaining a flat tuition rate, attract rich students repelled by Yale’s excessively “just” tuition scheme.
That school would not only leap in the admittedly overrated selectivity index, but in the long run would benefit from those extra moneyed alumni who make generous financial aid packages like ours possible.
Joseph DeFeo ’02
February 25, 2002
The writer is editor in chief of the Yale Free Press.