After picking my daughter Katie up at the airport in Chicago and preparing to drive to Michigan for the holidays, I must admit that I first checked the web to see what the Occupy protestors are doing for the Thanksgiving holidays. Since so many protestors are college students, I wondered if they were headed home and dropping the protests for the weekend? It doesn't look like it! On the Occupy Chicago site I found that they are planning a People’s Parade tomorrow — “as an alternative to the corporate-sponsored event taking place on State Street.”
These kids are not giving up! After quizzing my students about it on Tuesday in my cinema class, we proceeded to talk about the dramatic visual effect of the pepper-spraying event captured on camera at UC, Davis last week, and the even more powerful walk of silence that the chancellor was forced to take through hundreds of students, who were silently asking for her resignation. (Libby Gruner talks about the power of silence in her column which links to the video.)
My students had visited the Occupy Chicago location, but none seem to be actively participating. My university has started its own Occupy page on Facebook and several students seem to be active organizers. I do not know, however, if they are active in the latest college-related aspect of the movement, widely reported in IHE and the Chronicle—the Occupy Student Debt group.
This group is proposing to stop repaying their student loans after receiving a million signatures from students who vow to stop. Professor Andrew Ross of N.Y.U. (whose cultural criticism I teach) has been an active advisor to the Occupy Student Debt group. He describes the student debt burden as “intolerable,” reports IHE writer Libby A. Nelson. Nelson also quotes Sociology Phd student Pamela Brown with a hopeful solution. “The hope is,” said Brown, “that the signatures create enough momentum for change that borrowers are not forced to decide whether they will default.” Enough protest pressure should allow for some negotiating power at least.
Can’t we get a lower student loan debt burden for the holidays?