As millions of young Americans apply for student loan forgiveness, one thing is clear: American academia is in a state of crisis.

In 2022, the average annual tuition cost at a private college or university, including fees, comes out to more than $38,000 per year. Many private schools cost over $60,000 a year, and public schools are no longer the cheap alternatives of the past. Adjusting for inflation, the average annual cost of tuition at a public school or university has increased by nearly 750 percent since the 1960s.

Because of sky-high tuition, countless Americans are drowning in debt, saddled with relatively worthless degrees, and unable to become financially solvent as new members of the workforce. As of the fall semester, America’s total student loan debt clocks in at $1.75 trillion.

I am a college student myself, so it is a personal problem for me. And the financial burden is only the tip of the iceberg. For decades now, the U.S. academic system has been overrun by left-wing ideologues whose sole mission is to brainwash the students who pay into the system—at the expense of them and the parents footing the bill. From gender studies departments to the upper echelon of college administrations, liberal groupthink is very, very real. And it is scary.

As an outspoken conservative at Montana State University, I have been harassed and censored repeatedly for my views. Other students are part of the problem, but they are only emboldened by professors and administrators desperate to uphold the liberal orthodoxy on campus. You would be surprised to know how dictatorial and tyrannical the campus left has become.

Simply put, academia is a woke mess of epic proportions. This is in large part because the federal government subsidies of student loans encouraged colleges and universities to charge exorbitant tuition and related fees, and they gladly did, even if the final product added little to no value for students.

Worse yet, the ideology of left-wing academia is now creeping outside of campus and into other parts of American society—from corporate boardrooms to Congress. Our decision-making bodies, rather than being governed by reason, are controlled by activists serving the new religion of the metropolitan elite.

The COVID-related policies of colleges and universities also served as somber case studies of the power-hungry left, with students like me coerced via mask and vaccine mandates that were as anti-scientific as they were anti-freedom. The pandemic undermined individual liberty in unprecedented ways, and once that power is seized, it is seldom relinquished.

It is difficult to be optimistic when left-wing academia inspires such pessimism, but the only hope for college students is a political leader willing and able to weed out the authoritarian rot present in American bureaucracies. Young Americans like me are ready for a leader to expose academia for its left-wing radicalism and rein in its power, promoting values like freedom and liberty to the masses. President Donald Trump tapped into that desire in recent years, and we are ready for someone to follow in his footsteps.

Decades ago, that leader was Ronald Reagan, inspiring a new generation of conservatives and libertarians on campus to defend the Constitution from liberal attack. Decades later, millions of Americans turned to Barack Obama as that leader, only for many to be disappointed by the results (or lack thereof).

Today, I can confidently identify the leader who can follow in Trump’s footsteps and make America great again. His name is Ron DeSantis.

Americans are ready for Ron to continue defending freedom and liberty at the national level, just like he has done in Florida. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. DeSantis refused to kowtow to the radical left, keeping the Sunshine State open for business and rejecting the impulse to impose onerous mask and vaccine mandates on citizens of the state. It revealed true bravery and respect for liberty, and that’s why I support him now.

By choosing guidelines over mandates, DeSantis has given hope to college students like myself, who can now look to 2024 with newfound optimism that he will win the White House. For those still in the college system or who just left it, we know what a broken system looks like, and how important it is to solve the problem. Only strong leadership can get that job done.

Young Americans like myself are ready for Ron. We are ready for freedom and liberty to rule America once again, starting in 2024.