A quick walk through the student union at any of our state colleges shows where businesses feel they can make money from the college crowd. Amidst the bookstores and fast food counters there is one group that offers free gifts, easy money and seemingly no consequences - credit card companies.
State Senator Robert Milacek, R- Waukomis, has seen the damage credit card debt can inflict on college students and their families. During a recent showing of 60 Minutes II, the reporter interviewed the mother of an Oklahoma student so deep in debt from credit cards that he felt his only way out was to commit suicide.
Milacek feels that any time a young person takes their own life, it is tragic but what makes this story even more distressing is that our colleges benefit from each dollar of debt students accumulate on their credit cards.
"The fact that our universities have contact with these credit card companies and profit from every dollar that students spend is appalling," Milacek said. "Nowhere else can you find credit card companies willing to issue so much credit to young people who often do not even have a job."
While Milacek understands that 18-year old students have a right to control their own finances, his goal is to stop university sponsorship of the activity.
"When you are a young college student, probably short on money, and you see an OU or OSU booth with a credit card carrying the school logo on it, somehow that legitimizes the company as well as that spending behavior," Milacek explained. "That is what we need to stop."
When Milacek filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, which works to end credit card marketing on campus to anyone under 21, he had hoped his bill would never make it to the Senate floor for a vote.
"I have been trying to encourage the Regents and Representatives from our institutions of higher education to voluntarily end their practice of profiting from the debt of their students," said Milacek.
However, he believes that the relative inaction by the Regents to address this problem has forced him to advance his legislation.
"Just today the Regents contacted me, saying that credit management classes were the solution. I disagree," said Milacek. "I am committed to taking a stronger stand with this legislation since the Regents are unwilling to address this problem on their own. I don't know why our universities are so addicted to this money. Students go to college to learn the skills they need to survive in an increasingly competitive workplace, not generate revenue for their school through excessive spending."