Readers’ Forum: 5/5/20

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The textbook paradox

Did you know that 80% of students work while in college, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce? Not only that, they also found that tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities have risen 19 times faster than average family incomes since 1980. Families are failing to keep up with the finances, so naturally, many students are forced to work in order to receive an education.

Fortunately, BYU students have a much lower tuition rate than other private universities.
The economical cost helps thousands of students receive an excellent education. However,
when it comes to textbooks, we aren’t so lucky. One month into my freshman year, I realized the money I had saved from summer and high school jobs was not going to cut it. Although my savings paid for rent and tuition, there were many other expenses in college. I decided I would need to work on the weekends to cover my books and other living expenses.

Last semester I purchased a textbook for a term class and left the BYU Bookstore $173 poorer than I was just minutes earlier. That textbook will be used for a mere seven weeks but
cost me around 19 hours of work to buy. The irony is I have to sacrifice study time to purchase my study materials.

Professors should measure the cost of class materials by the average student hourly wage. One textbook consumed 3.5 Saturdays of work, valuable days I could have spent studying. As students we need to come together and gain the courage to ask our professors to rethink their assigned textbooks and urge them to remember that those expenses directly impede precious study time.

Erika Wells
Draper, UT

Voluntourism

Commonly dubbed as “voluntourism,” humanitarian aid trips have become quite popular
among teenagers and young adults. Their aim is usually to travel to a third-world country to improve the lives of those living in less-fortunate situations. However, the true
effectiveness of these trips, while difficult to measure, is lacking and can be improved upon in
order to have a long-lasting, positive impact. This can be done through better training, research and a change in perspective from both companies and volunteers.

Unfortunately, many humanitarian aid trips are lacking accurate training. If the goal is to
help those suffering in third-world countries, those who volunteer on trips must have the proper training in order to effectively administer help. However, a majority of volunteers are young and inexperienced, which can create health and social risks.

A combination of better training and more time would bring success to these trips. The change that needs to occur also needs to begin with a change in intentions and perspective of those organizing humanitarian trips. Their current perspective can be twisted, often focused on money and tourism, which is highly unhelpful when it comes to humanitarian aid.

Rather than focusing on those in need, it focuses on fulfilling the wants of the volunteers, derailing the purpose of the trips. Volunteers also need a switch in perspective, from going to experience a change within themselves to going to improve the lives of others. This way, voluntourism can be transformed into genuine humanitarian aid.

Aubrey Martin
Lacey, WA

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