Go To Jail And Get a College Degree For Free!

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Hey everyone! We are all doing something incredibly wrong! Tonight I was watching the story on the news show, 60 Minutes about prison inmates who were getting a free education at Bard College. Some of these inmates were in prison for killing one or more people. These weren’t inmates who robbed a home or stole a car. NO! They took the life of another human being and now have the opportunity to get a college degree.

What are we as physically disabled people doing wrong here? When physically disabled people go to vocational rehabilitation, a government funded program, to ask for college financial assistance they are placed under a microscope to see if they are smart enough to earn a bachelor’s degree.

My story is not uncommon among the physically disabled. I was tested and found to be a gifted child. I graduated from high school with a B average. I was accepted to various universities and decided to attend the University of Miami in Florida. I was enrolled and attending university classes when I went to vocational rehabilitation because I was told they would be able to financially help me with my school books. After knowing all of this information, the vocational rehabilitation case worker told me that I had to go through a series of tests to see if I was “college material”.

What was I thinking subjecting myself to demeaning physical, psychological and mental examinations when all I really needed to do was kill someone near Bard College and be a part of their prison college program! Take a life or two and get a free college education!

Don’t you find this absurd?

Of course, I would never suggest taking the life of another to get a free education. But what kind of message are we getting? What message is being sent to the less fortunate able body people who obey the laws, study hard and perhaps get a scholarship that covers part of their college tuition but must still work full time to pay for the rest of the tuition?

Prisoners can get a free education, free medical service, free shelter, free food and a free gym but physically disabled people have to prove themselves over and over again.

With so many physically disabled people willing to become employed tax paying productive citizens, wouldn’t you think that colleges like Bard would offer the same opportunities to us as they do to murderers?

Are Bard College and the rest of society trying to tell us that they would prefer a murderer with a college degree working beside them in the workplace than a physically disabled person with a college degree? How insulting is that!

How many elite educational institutions are out there rolling out the red carpet for physically disabled people to join free educational programs?

I am totally in favor of rehabilitating criminals so that they can change their criminal ways when they are released back into society. But these prison students were murderers! Why would they even be released?

It’s becoming a strange world when non criminal people with a physical disability must jump through demoralizing hoops to get some financial assistance for a college education while criminals who shoot people can attend an elite college for free.

How many of you went to college? How many of you are trying to get to college? What’s your story?

Share your story with us. Email us at nathasha@audacitymagazine.com .