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Santorum’s Comments on Higher Education Draw Criticism

Political rhetoric has been heating up as GOP hopefuls jockey for the party’s nomination to candidacy for President in 2012. Rick Santorum has found himself in the hot seat over comments made during an address he made to supporters in Michigan on February 25, when he called President Obama a snob for believing that every American should go to college.

Santorum’s comments drew fire across the Internet and on political satire programs such as Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with John Stewart and The Colbert Report. Students, educators and staff on Radford University’s campus gave their reactions to Santorum’s statements on Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Margaret Hrezo, Chair of the Department of Political Science, said her reaction would be the same as some reactions she had been hearing.

“Somebody asked him, “what do you want for your children? What is the goal for your children?’ and ultimately, he had to admit that he wanted his children to go to college,” said Hrezo. “I think that while everybody isn’t right for college, we should respect people’s choices and honor people’s choices to be whatever. You know, if they want to become involved in doing solar panels, or wind energy, or welding—any skill. But almost every skill is going to require additional training beyond high school, and most of the jobs of the future that pay anything like a living wage are going to be jobs that require higher education.”

Hrezo said she would also ask Santorum why he considered his own education important.

“What I find problematic about what he said is the idea that it’s okay for certain people to go to college, but for other folks… they don’t have what it takes, or they shouldn’t, or, I’m not quite sure what he had in mind, but I don’t understand why it’s okay for some people to go to college and for some people to get lots and lots of degrees, when if you have the talent and the interest, everybody should be able to do that,” said Hrezo.

“I think he misunderstood what Obama said about every American going to college,” said Megan Shanahan, who is an RU psychology major. “He didn’t just mean four-year universities, which I guess some people think are snobby… but I think Santorum is an idiot.”

Mike Draper, a member of RU’s housekeeping staff, said he wasn’t impressed with Santorum’s comments either.

“I think education is important,” said Draper, who also pointed out a harsh truth about the president’s opinion on higher education. “Obama wants everybody to go to college, but not everybody can afford to go to college.”

In the wake of his incendiary comments, Santorum’s performance in Tuesday’s Arizona and Michigan primaries was less than satisfactory, as he lost both primaries to his fellow GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney.

This article was an assignment for COMS 481 

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