The Octogenarian – Expensive Textbooks

One morning last week as I was entering the Estill Building on campus, a young man, a stranger, greeted me warmly and. anticipating my movements, called out to his friend to hold the elevator.

After completing my business upstairs, I was leaving the building, when that same young man (please understand that on campus, everyone deserves the preface young to their identity when that description is coming from me) stopped me and requested that I answer a question for him.

Always willing to visit when time allows, I answered affirmatively and approached him.  His question was, paraphrased, “If somebody tells you something, do you believe him or not?”  My answer was quick, simple and personal, “If I know the statement to be false or inaccurate, I will challenge the premise. If not, I accept what I am told as truth.”

If I understand his explanation, he was being reported for telling his class that the price of textbooks is too high and the system is unfair. Smiling, I told him that I had been hearing that argument since I attended college in the 1950s.  I think I told him about a professor I had for two consecutive semesters who wrote and published a new book every year to cover the two subjects he taught and demanded the purchase of the new edition of the book as a part of your grade.  Of course that was before the days of Rate Your Professor.

I did not tell him that at the beginning of the last school year, on the Saturday before classes began, while shopping in my campus bookstore, I had a stroke. When asked by the staff of the emergency room to which I was taken, and to anyone else who would listen, I have openly but jokingly attributed my sudden stroke to my shock at the cost of my books.

We then discussed what I consider to be one of the two biggest rip-offs of the American Public in modern history and that is the student loan program.

We also discussed something that I am passionate about. In the country which originated and developed free education for all, I believe that free education should be expanded to include grades pre-K through 16 [college], with accommodation beyond that if for no other reason than it is a part of OUR national security.

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