I spoke about student debt on the “human mic” at Occupy Washington Square Park, described in the Village Voice as “a smaller group autonomous of, but loosely affiliated with” #ows. They’ve been having general assemblies, working groups, and speakers including Angela Davis and Judith Butler.

Here’s a video.

An NYU professor, Andrew Ross, who also spoke, is affiliated with organizing the occupy student debt working group. One proposal they’re knocking around is a “debt refusal” campaign–get 1 million people to sign on and then all stop paying their loans.

It’s an intriguing idea that I haven’t heard before. People who can’t pay back their loans are in a pretty rough spot as individuals, but then again, it’s no guarantee that there’d be safety in numbers, either.

Anyway, it was fun speaking for the mic (where the crowd repeats your words every few phrases.) Here’s what I said.

36 million Americans have Student Loan Debt
That’s two-thirds of college graduates
It totals one trillion dollars
that’s more than credit card debt
$27,000 per person
I’ve been writing about this problem
for seven years
Student Loan Debt negates the American dream
We’re told that if we work hard
the smart ones,
the ones that deserve it
will be let through the gates
and into the middle class
but there’s a catch
College tuition has risen
more than any other good or service
ANY OTHER GOOD OR SERVICE
In the US Economy
since 1978!

Tuition increases and debt increases
make each other possible.

So what’s to be done?
Number one, Abolition
I think that’s a nonstarter politically on its own
you have to admit that American college students
are a privileged part of the 99 percent
But if you call for a general amnesty
On all kinds of debt
A bailout for the 99 percent
I think it makes sense morally
And even economically
Number 2, direct action
You can just stop paying your loans
I know people who have done it
You will never have credit
You will never have assets in your name
You will never go back to school
But the good news is
They can’t repossess your brain
Number 3, Bankruptcy protection
For both private and federal loans
This is very very important
It’s been shot down several times
In the past few years
But there are bills right now
In the House and Senate
And now’s a good time to call for it

Number 4, this is the most important
Attack the source
which is the cost of higher education
My last two books
DIY U
and the free Edupunks Guide
are about self-organized peer to peer forms of learning
often using open digital resources
that are free or very cheap
I see the Occupy movement
And this event this afternoon
as an example of self-organized education
I think everyone has the power
to take control of your own learning
and provide an alternative
that puts the institutions on notice
that they must lower their costs
Because education is a human right.

One Response to “Occupy and Student Loan Debt”

  1. Dave Maney says:

    Anya, when you read the human mic speech, given the way you wrote it out, and of course without the people repeating it…it actually starts to sound like poetry!! Maybe that’s how we should all start writing now!!

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