Junior Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has come under fire from college students at both of his alma maters regarding his recent comments on federal student aid.
Earlier in 2011, Brown voted with his party in support of the Republican budget plan. Among numerous other proposals, the plan would have cut average Pell Grant funding to college students by $700.
However, on multiple occasions, Brown has commented on his struggles in paying for college and the opportunities afforded him by federal aid when he attended two private institutions: Tufts for his undergraduate degree, and Boston College Law School.
Andrew Slade, vice president of the College Democrats of Massachusetts and A&S ’13, pointed out what he viewed as hypocrisy in Brown’s voting record.
“I think that over the past year we’ve heard a lot about the struggles that he went through having to pay for college, and I absolutely understand that it’s expensive,” said Slade. “Yet his voting record shows that he doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned with what our generation is going through having to pay for college.”
Brown won his senate seat in 2010, in a special election following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. The Democrats in the Senate had 59 members following the death of Kennedy, so Brown’s election prevented cloture. Slade described his election strategy as “portraying himself as the vote against health care.”
Slade expressed his belief that Brown should not be re-elected when his term is up in 2012. He commented that one of the top goals of the College Democrats of Massachusetts would be to support Brown’s democratic opponent during the election cycle. Kate Moore, a student at Smith College and president of the College Democrats of Massachusetts, made similar statements in a conference call with reporters.
“Just as Scott Brown has made it clear that he does not stand with students, college students will make it clear that they stand with Democrats in 2012,” Moore said.
“I don’t think that he is the appropriate person to represent the people of Massachusetts,” Slade reflected. “He was afforded opportunities to attend two private schools, and those opportunities were made possible by tax payers, he received government support that helped make it possible for him to attend Tufts and BC Law, and I think that’s great. But now that he’s become a U.S. senator representing students from those schools he has voted pretty consistently against legislation that would make it easier for students to afford school.”
Bronwen Raff, a Tufts junior and vice president of Tufts Democrats, criticized Brown for the same inconsistencies in his voting record in a conference call with reporters.
“I can say with all certainty that I would not be at this amazing institution without Pell Grants,” Raff said. “It is hurtful to know that Scott Brown has not looked out for the students who have followed behind him at his alma mater. By supporting cuts for Pell Grants, Scott Brown is disallowing students like me from learning at the same institution where he too received a first-class education.”
Despite the mounting criticism, a 2010 poll conducted by The Boston Globe showed that Brown was ranked as “the most popular officeholder in Massachusetts.” The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee released a poll confirming that Brown remains the “most popular politician in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with an approval rating of 73 percent.”