Ivy League Birth Control

By Michael P. Riccards

The Bush Administration’s budget contains some cuts in health care, one of them for subsidizing birth control devices and medications for college enrolled students. Across the nation, students (mainly female) are bemoaning the fact that birth control pills are going up from $6 to $18 per month which makes one would think that this new price is so terribly high that it threatens the economic well being of students on a budget. One must assume that they have already tried to absorb the extra $12 by cutting back on alcohol, cigarettes, clothes, shopping, and eating out.

In the true tradition of privilege, Princeton University’s the administration has come to the rescue of students. They have found in their campus billions about $80,000 to replace government subsidy for birth control. One only has to go the student heath center to be taken care of. After all, if one is paying $45,000 for an education at Princeton, one should expect free or at least subsided birth control. Things are all quiet on the Nassau.

The University’s largesse is a part of an even larger phenomenon. Students rightly object that they should not be treated as children by administrators. They do not need people serving in loco parentis. But still, when they get in trouble, they become children expecting the University and their parents to take their sides. Larger universities and colleges provide medical care, personal counseling, travel agencies, barbershops, and legal counseling. The once quiet student union has become a bazaar for student wares and student services. Of course, everybody ends up subsidizing all this through student fees.

While Princeton is subsidizing birth control, Rutgers is trying to figure out how to build luxury boxes in its football stadium. One great season has generated demand for seats—so the administration has to respond with more. Governor Corzine had promised $30 million in bonds; after the referendum defects in November he is backing way. He said he would head up an effort to raise private funds and made out a personal check for $1 million. That is the Corzine way.

Perhaps universities should revert to a clearer and more focused sense of the education mission. Yes an educational mission. If you want entertainment, go to Madison Square Garden. If you want birth control devices, go to the pharmacy. Let us subsidize student scholarships, libraries and laboratories—and do it based on student need.

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