Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Editorial Board 1998-99

Declaring fairness

Editorial Cartoon

Declaring fairness

When little kids wait for their parents to go into another room, then quietly eat all the cookies from the cookie jar, the pleasure is always short lived. As they lay on the couch, recovering from a monster tummy ache, it's clear the actions weren't worth the consequence. This is a lesson most people learn early in life and future decisions are moderated accordingly.

However, it seems the federal government has assumed students with a university education don't know how to take their hands out of the cookie jar.

A decision made by the government in February of last year prevents students from declaring bankruptcy for a minimum of 10 years after graduation. Some have seen this decision as discrimination against students, as they are the only group of people to have to endure a decade waiting period.

Regardless of the policy's questionable nature, the message is clear. The government does not want students abusing bankruptcy laws for the purpose of eliminating their student loans. However, the government has overlooked the fact that abusing the title of "bankruptcy" to clear up a debt is like abusing the title of "criminal" to shoplift the butter needed to make Kraft Dinner. The consequences far outweigh the actions.

A person filing for bankruptcy will have trouble their whole life establishing any kind of credit, thereby risking future financial necessities like having a mortgage or applying for a loan. It also amounts to considerable public embarrassment, considering the value society places on financial status. These are extremely negative repercussions which act as a high enough deterrent for people looking for the easy way out.

The most disturbing aspect of this policy is it illustrates the government recognizes bankruptcy as a harsh reality for graduating students. Their policy clearly identifies the problem – too many students are racking up astronomical debt without the job security a university education used to promise. But instead of offering solutions, they are taking an option away which is valid for some.

If it's so obvious tuition fees are skyrocketing out of students' control, perhaps other avenues should be explored for an answer. The first of which comes to mind is eliminating the fuel from the fire – lower tuition. Re-regulate programs, or at least put some thought into policies which consider both sides of the problem.

A decade ago, lead by the Beastie Boys, students were fighting for their right to party. Now they're fighting for their right to declare financial ruin. Is it really too much to ask?

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Copyright The Gazette 1999