Skip to comments.Occupy Wall Street's Latest Plan: Refuse to Repay Student Loan Debt
Posted on 11/22/2011 2:49:48 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Occupy Wall Streets latest grievance centers on student loan programs and higher education reform, and the groups most recent campaign involves a movement-wide boycott on student loan debt repayment. Early Monday afternoon, a crowd of faculty and student organizers assembled at the southeast corner of New York City's Zuccotti Park to announce Occupy Student Debt, a national initiative directed at recruiting student loan borrowers and requesting that they willfully default on their loan payments. The campaign consists of three pledges:
1. A refusal to make loan payments. This pledge will take effect after a million debtors have signed on to the campaign. 2. A faculty pledge of support for the "refusers." 3. A general, non-debtors' pledge of support for parents, the students and other public sympathizers.
"Since the first days of the Occupy movement, the agony of student debt has been a constant refrain," New York University professor Andrew Ross announced to a crowd of more than 100 people. "Weve heard the harrowing personal testimony about the suffering and humiliation of people who believe their debts will be unpayable in their lifetime."
Chronicled on the movements unofficial "We Are the 99 Percent" Tumblr blog, recent graduates hold handwritten signs detailing their personal stories on student loan debt, with signs with statements such as, "I have $50,000 in student loan debt and my B.A. is useless." In response to rising tuition costs, and driven by the movements virulent disdain for profitable institutions, OWS protesters plan to accomplish the following goal:
Under the campaign which grew from the original Occupy Wall Street protest and is now known, inevitably, as Occupy Student Debt borrowers will pledge to stop repaying their student loans once 1 million people vow to do so as well. The campaign is calling for several reforms of higher education, including free public colleges, no-interest loans, greater transparency at private and for-profit colleges and complete forgiveness of all existing student debt.
The strategy behind the campaign is that if one million students refuse to pay back their student loan debt, the group will suffer minimal consequences due to safety in numbers. But also incorporated in the student-debt refusal pledge is a willingness to help draw attention to the progressive rise in tuition costs, and the calamitous effect such inflationary maneuvers have had on student debt loads.
However, even supporters of the movement perceive the protesters demands as too far-reaching, as it is highly unlikely that there will be free public colleges and that all private universities will disclose their internal finances. Moreover, the repercussions for defaulting on student loan debt are not inconsequential. Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt and The Edupunks Guide, warns borrowers of the consequences of defaulting on their loans, which can involve wage and tax refund garnishments and other penalizing tactics.
Further, Kamenetz is skeptical that the Occupy Student Debt campaign will garner much support from the student graduate population. "As an organizing tactic, mass default is a little bit difficult to get mainstream America to embrace, since theres this very strong moral and ethical belief that people dont walk away from loans they voluntarily assumed," asserted Kamenetz, who has researched and written on the subject of student loan debt for several years. "Theres this deep, pervading sense that since I had to pay off my loans, you should have to pay off your loans, too."
Besides the formidable challenge of amassing widespread public support particularly as violence and destructive behavior have showered the movement with negative sentiments are the abiding ramifications of student loan defaulting. "Defaulting is considered a financial felony that will continue to haunt you," asserted Carl Van Horn, a public policy professor at Rutgers University. "Student loans are not something you can easily walk away from, and defaulting is hardly the same thing as missing a credit card payment. It really is a black mark."
But this inevitable notion has not stopped college graduates and university faculty from hawking their anti-student loan agenda, as Thomas Gokey, an adjunct professor at Syracuse University and participant in Mondays announcement, says it is not uncommon for Syracuse students to amass upwards of $200,000 in debt come graduation time. "Theres been a lot of talk around student debt, but not a lot of action," averred Ross. "Even in the best of times, it was a very heavy burden to carry for decades. But now, with chronic unemployment, its morally unsustainable."
Ashley Dawson, an associate professor at the City University of New York and proponent of the new OWS initiative, says she sees many of her students working "not only one but two jobs just to afford our relatively reasonable tuition rates." "For students faced with debt, this campaign is important because it will help provide them with a collective organizing vehicle," alleged Dawson, a member of the OWS Empowerment and Education working group. "Were aiming to galvanize sweeping political change."
However, the professors and OWS organizers have neglected to identify the actual cause of rising tuition costs, but instead demonize private universities for leeching off of young high school graduates who are seeking college degrees. Similar to the third-party-payer system which bridles American healthcare, government has played an increasing role in subsidizing tuition costs, as students are amassing bulky government loans to finance their education.
Such a system discourages high school graduates from pursuing the most competitively-priced institutions, as many students choose schools charging $30,000 per year in tuition costs, with the anticipation that they will land high-paying jobs come graduation. This of course allows higher learning institutions to charge enormous tuition rates, and thanks to federal interference which has distorted the education market, colleges and universities get off scot-free.
The governments devious act of manipulating the higher education market, coupled with a Federal Reserve system which is brewing an inflationary hailstorm, is the origin of the problem, as Texas Congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul wrote in October regarding his "Restore America" budget plan:
Like housing and medicine, education costs went through the roof when government became involved. In the last three decades, the overall inflation rate has increased more than 100%, which means we basically pay double now for everything we buy. This price inflation is an inevitable consequence of printing money out of thin air and devaluing our dollar. But compare this inflation to the rise in the cost of college tuition, which has increased almost 500% in the same amount of time.
This is what happens when we print money out of thin air and couple it with government intervention in education.
Hell, Obama has already all but excused these loans.
I don’t want to pay my bills either.
If anybody needs me I’ll be holding my breath and pouting.
It’s all in the plan thier being fed. Overwhelm the system into collapse. This will be one more nail
Any bets on what this professor's salary is? And whether or not it has gone up during this economic downturn? We all know, don't we.
one of the protesters
They dont have a lot of cuts and stuff for everybody.
This is a plan I can actually support. It would kill the student loan program completely and students would be expected to pay their own way, 100%.
There’s a reason the gubmint took over student loans and loan collections recently.
Another chance for Barry and his Chicago thugs to absolve the yutes of their sins.
Actually, it would not kill the majority of the student loan industry since the taxpayers now backstop most of these loans (thanks to the 110th Congress).
The banks will get their money regardless.
If the student defaults, the taxpayer pays the loan.
Actually, it’s yet another financial services industry subsidy since the taxpayer backstops most of these student loans. Banks have little risk here.
As per usual, the taxpayer is carrying the risk on defaults. Thanks Congress!
I'm not in college admin, but if somebody works for me, and advocates that my customers refuse to pay their bills, he wouldn't work for me much longer.
I’d even be willing to make a deal.
We forgive all current student loan debts in return for cutting all federal funding of colleges and student loan programs.
We’ll see how dedicated they really are.
You don’t think people should have to pay back the thousands of dollars they borrowed to go to college?
Maybe that's because they took out loans for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a degree with no job prospects, other than teaching the courses required for the degree (I have news for you... They've got all the teachers they need for those degree classes!) or a career that only pays $25,000 a year...
They need to sue their guidance counselors, college advisers, and themselves for their stupid decisions!
I'll say this... Go ahead and decide not to pay your student debt... At least in the old days, that was one of the debts that isn't cleared by bankruptcy. The government WILL go after you for outstanding student loans!
Another day in Obamaland. :(
I'm not even sure I've seen them blame the private universtities. I've only seen them blame the lenders.
I foresee the return of the debtor’s prison sooner than many would think.
Students Paying More and Getting Less, Study Says
the share of higher education budgets that goes to instruction has declined, while the portion spent on administrative costs has increased.
(Sounds like every other Govt program.)
Maybe they could spend some of the millions in endowements theyre sitting on.
So whens the congressional hearing on college price gouging ?
(College costs are up 900% since 1978)
I didn’t say that. Of course they should.
But, the only way to defeat socialism is to have it beat itself. Most people do not understand the bankrupting nature of socialism. As long as a government program kind of works and it’s flaws not blaring out in neon lights and massive speakers, too many people take that as a sign that socialism works. That’s why it is so hard to get rid of it.
I’m saying that if it means that, without question, that socialism is a failure, that there might be some pain to suffer to show it’s unquestionable failings, it may hurt, but I can support that.
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