Thursday, April 19, 2012
This week's "Room for Debate" tackles an issue controversial among nonprofit academics: whether wealthy universities such as Princeton, Harvard and Yale should continue to receive tax subsidies. More specifically, this week's debate asks participants to discuss whether "government [should] change its tax exemption policies for universities as a way of equalizing educational resources in America." The specific prompt for the New York Times's attention to this issue is a recent op-ed by Richard Vedder, a professor at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Vedder argues that the tax subsidies afforded affluent institutions like Princeton far exceed governmental assistance to smaller schools like the College of New Jersey, and that since wealthy and moderately affluent students comprise the bulk of attendees at the former, the tax subsidies constitute "a regressive social policy that many would argue is inconsistent with using higher education as a tool in promoting the American Dream." Interestingly, most of the commentators seem to disagree with Vedder's proposal, although most concede that inequality in access to higher education is a problem.