• December 18, 2014

Protesters Plan a National 'Student-Debt Refusal' Campaign

Occupy Wall Street protesters are poised to announce a national "student-debt refusal" campaign that would begin next week, says a prominent scholar within the movement.

On Wednesday night, Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, said members of an Occupy Wall Street working group were finalizing drafts of three "pledges" related to student debt, including a debtors' pledge, whose signers would refuse to make payments on their loans after one million signatures have been collected.

The other pledges are one for faculty members who support those who refuse to pay, and another for nondebtors, including parents and sympathizers, who also want to show their support.

The pledges, Mr. Ross said, are to be based on four beliefs: that student loans should be interest-free; that tuition at all public institutions should be federally funded; that private and for-profit colleges should open their financial records to the public; and that students' "debt burden" should be written off.

Mr. Ross, an expert in academic-labor issues, is a member of Occupy Wall Street's Education and Empowerment working group. On Wednesday, he described how his personal interest in student-debt issues had developed.

"Like many faculty, I see a lot of suffering and humiliation among students in taking on this debt," Mr. Ross said. "There was the recognition that my own salary is debt-financed. ... There's an element of complicity. It's an incredible burden for faculty to bear."

The campaign is scheduled to begin with an event at Zuccotti Park, in New York, on Monday afternoon, followed by a protest at the City University of New York's Baruch College.

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