“Working Class Students Feel the Pinch”

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A Semantic Calculator for Bias in Rhetoric

When this piece was written, Stephen Burd was a senior writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education and had been working in that capacity for nearly a decade. In this context it makes sense that he would write on such things as the "working-class student". White male, middle-aged, middle-class, bachelors degree in history- all of these are attributed to Mr. Burd (though none of these things are explicitly referenced in his writing). In this piece there is no overt evidence that the aforesaid attributes influence his opinion. In general, albeit with only superficial evidence, there appears to be little reason for Mr. Burd to write with ulterior motives.

Working class students struggling to pay for college would certainly advocate what he is writing. The Chronicle of Higher Education would be more of a vessel by which Mr. Burd promulgates his opinion rather than an advocate. Worth noting is the fact that Mr. Burd does not appear to be supported by any high profile organizations.

While Mr. Burd may not have any explicit ulterior motives, he does express a great deal of opinion in his writing. Generally, this particular piece suffers from much wishful thinking. Mr Burd continually suggests that more money needs to be given to those less capable of paying for college without explaining how this would be done. By ignoring the fallout of such an act his piece suffers from a fallacy of rationalization. Mr. Burd argues that the federal government is not doing enough to help working-class college-goers pay for school. He plays up the argument that working class college- goers are being punished for being nontraditional while downplaying the argument that “standards for admission” are a necessary component of higher learning. The words ‘abandoned’ and ‘hopeless’ represent the kind of word play used to stir up sympathy (for the working-class college-goer), but at the same time these words are used to stir up anger (towards...
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