President Clinton and Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Mark Wrighton on Tuesday outlined plans for the Clinton Global Initiative University 2013 meeting, which will be held this month at the university, attracting a large group of student leaders.
While the event will feature discussion on numerous issues, Clinton discussed several higher education issues in the call Tuesday, expressing concerns about debt levels. “We can’t continue to see the cost of education go up … every decade … when wages are flat,” he said. “The student loan reform [passed in 2010] will help, but a lot of people have student debt that goes beyond the federal student loan program… I think the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system.” The answer, Clinton said, may be online education, but “the next big step in this whole deal is for someone to certify what you need to know and then figure out some way of validating the merits of these on line courses.”
Prescription drug abuse, Clinton said, was a particular problem at colleges and universities. “Every institution of higher education should make sure that 100 percent of students understand that you can’t mix prescription pills with alcohol… It’s important that this message [also] go out to students in high schools [and] working people,” he said. “All these young people in their 20s and 30s [are] dying because of these abuses that would be very easily corrected.”
Gendered violence, Clinton said, was an issue that generated substantial interest from university and college students, both from a broader, global-justice based perspective or on a personal level. “It’s a huge problem around the world; the subjugation of women and girls as opposed to the education and empowerment of women and girls is one of the choices the world has to make,” Clinton said. “The students are very interested, particularly if they can figure out some way they can make a difference, even if it’s just sending $5 to the right organization.”