Student Activists Protest Against Putnam Investments and ITT Over Student Debt
Student debt has been a hot topic among presidential candidates for the 2016 election, yet many young college students took to the streets as Fellowship participants in a protest organized by Student Debt Summer advocating for student loan borrowers.
At a gathering in Boston over the 2015 summer months, 10 students and recent grads spent countless hours researching the biggest issues affecting student debt and protesting within the streets directing their concerns particularly at for-profit colleges who have recently been accused of tactlessly luring in students advising them to take on substantial loans for degrees many corporations tend to look over.
Student Debt Summer is a program developed by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank and Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a non-profit community advocacy and homeownership organization that has recently expanded its activism portfolio extending to student debt issues.
These students stood outside with signs for Putnam to drop its investments in the ITT educational services, a for-profit educational chain operating more than 100 campuses across the country. Students also marched into the Boston Lobby of Putnam Investments chanting to the tune of their colorful signs “Putnam – put ‘em out of business.”
This demonstration held by only 10 students selected from over 100 applicants is a strong signal that student debt has protracted beyond a personal financial concern to a full out political and cultural force. Hillary Clinton has released her $350 billion dollar plan for student debt with many other candidates, particularly Democrats, releasing their proposals for the student debt crisis.
The weight of $1.2 trillion in debt has fallen upon hopeful students leaving higher education officials, politicians and activists fighting to discover methods to mitigate the issue. The Student Debt Summer program opened the door for young enthusiasts to gather in a singular location to become acquainted during this “brewing social movement,” and as a way to create awareness on the policy issues surrounding the student debt crisis. They have found this method has been a source to learn organization skills to advocate not only themselves, but their peers as well, said Josh Hoxie, overseer of the program and director of IPS’s Project on Opportunity and Taxation.
“Folks have all eyes on student debt.” Hoxie said to media. “We were trying to create the conditions for which these young organizers could really dig on the issue.”
This small activist group involves students with a diverse set of opinions on student debt with one senior at Wellesly College stating she’s well aware of how parents are an influential aspect to help their children avoid debt by paying for college, which in turn affects the parents and students lives.
Plans to release reports on the history of student debt and solutions to the crisis by program participants is in the works with hope to provide media and the public with easy to digest information on the impact it has on our nation. Program participants received a stipend of between $3,000 and $4,000 for their summer efforts, said Hoxie.
“Looking towards the future as to what I want to do, this fellowship really reinforced a commitment to social justice and especially economic justice,” said Hannah Burt, a program participant.
This summer program has become an inspiration for participants to continue with similar work both on campus and in other “real world” issues.