OWS Education Activists Launch Student Debt Refusal Pledge
In the wake of massive walkouts at colleges in New York on November 17 and statewide protests in the University of California system, student debt has come to the fore as a major animating issue for the Occupy movement. Young people face record student debt at a time when the employment rate among those under 24 is at its lowest since the 1970s.Today, the Education and Empowerment working group at Occupy Wall Street announced their next step in the fight against the burden of student loans: a debt refusal pledge.Students and faculty, dressed in caps and gowns, performed a bit of street theater under the now-famous red sculpture at Liberty Plaza, handing out debt bills instead of diplomas and draping chains around their necks. Then, Professor Andrew Ross of NYU addressed the crowd through the People's Mic, saying "Since the first days of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the agony of student debt has been a constant refrain. We've heard truly harrowing personal testimony about the suffering and humiliation of people who believe that their debt will be unpayable in their lifetime.""Education is not like buying a car or a flatscreen TV," Ross continued, "Education is a right and a public good."