DEBATE: Q and A with OUSC President and Vice President

By Nichole Seguin

What were your thoughts on the remarks made today by GOP presidential candidates regarding federal loans?

Vice President Elisa Malile: I was very disappointed in the remarks (regarding loans). I came to this university on federal loans. My parents lost the money, so we didn’t have it. I’ve used federal loans to get me through. Oakland University has the highest financial aid that it provides to students. I think we’re up to 68 percent. I know a lot of people in OU Student Congress, a lot of students we’ve talked to have federal loans, so for a candidate to come into our university and make those statements … I’m not okay with that.

President Ben Eveslage: I also agree. I think some of the comments they made about how we provide loans to students … they didn’t use them well. That’s not always the case. In my case, I’m trying to graduate in three years and that’s because I know I need the money and I have to pay it back as soon as possible, so I don’t need to extend my stay and use more money than I would otherwise. It’s great to have loans, but it’s also great to educate students on how to use them best, because that’s the missing part.

Did they mischaracterize students in any way?

Elisa Malile: I think the tough part, too, is that we have students who work 2-3 jobs and it still doesn’t provide them enough to pay for housing, gas, cars, let alone their education. Our government, as a public university, has cut  our funding and we have increased tuition. It was kind of a hypocritical statement (because of the venue).

Ben Eveslage: That’s definitely a big part, and not always can you have a job that provides money. Sometimes you can just get the experience from an internship. It may not provide money, but it could mean more after your graduation and that may mean you need to take out loans. For OU students, I think that’s the opposite. I think the worst option right now, especially at Oakland University, is to have a state where only the top-notch students who have rich families will have been able to go to the university. That makes it risky for our university and risky for our students.

Elisa Malile: A lot of private loans need a cosigner and a lot of students come from low-income families and their families may not have credit and that’s devastating to the student body.

Are there special challenges that come with being a so-called commuter school?

Elisa Malile: We’re unique because we are a commuter university. Over 80 percent of our students are commuters and that’s unique because our environment as a university is different and what we provide for students is different as well … the environment changes. I think out of love, the candidates should’ve addressed that, and none of them touched based on it.

Ben Eveslage: It’s an added cost, definitely

Congressman Ron Paul stated that “… a poorer education and costs that have skyrocketed because of inflation, and they don’t have jobs,” in regards to the student loan program. What are your thoughts on this?

Ben Eveslage: I do not think it’s true that we’re getting poor education, but it could become true. If states keep raising tuition or cut funding to higher education, that means we’re unable to provide the best professors and the best facilities for the programs, and that’s what will make our education poorer.

Elisa Malile: I’m going off of the fact that we have a world-renowned education. All of our professors have Ph.D.s, which is unique, which not a lot of universities have. The experience that comes along with it, like the internships that the university provides … I mean, look at our medical school. It’s so unique in the fact that students can learn through the textbooks and apply it at their clinicals. It’s unique.  I think that cutting funding, especially for public universities, is judgmental.