Activists on campus tackle student debt

By Kaitlyn Griffith

On Thursday, a group of students from the Denver area met at the Sturm College of Law to discuss student autonomy in Colorado and the state of student loans nationwide.

The University of Denver, Regis University and the Iliff School of Theology were represented.

The red square was first seen in the Quebec student movement.  It originates from the students' demand that their government drop its plans to hike up tuition by 75%, a change which would have put students “squarely in the red” (i.e., in debt). Students in COSPA wear the squares to show solidarity with the Quebec student movement.

The red square was first seen in the Quebec student movement. It originates from the students’ demand that their government drop its plans to hike up tuition by 75%, a change which would have put students “squarely in the red” (i.e., in debt). Students in COSPA wear the squares to show solidarity with the Quebec student movement.

 

The students were members of the Colorado Student Power Alliance (COSPA), a group that seeks to eliminate student debt, democratize schools, reform curriculum and ensure open access to higher education for everyone who needs it.

 

“Students are financially constrained for something they should be allowed to do,” one student said.

To members of COSPA , education isn’t a privilege for the few, but a right of all.

Many issues discussed at the meeting hit close to home for many of the students present. Many fear what might happen if federal and state policy on student loans isn’t drastically altered.

“I don’t want to be my dad,” Elizabeth Borneman, a recent DU graduate, said. “He’s 50 and working in a job he hates.”

Students active in COSPA are aware of the potential pitfalls of trying to reform student loans. They understand that it will be an uphill battle, but many are determined to see this struggle through until the end.

“I’ve seen good radical after good radical start this fight and lose,” Sara Fitouri, a law student at DU, said. “I won’t be one of them,”

This month, COSPA is building and displaying a wall of debt on campuses around Denver. The wall will stand about six feet high and 20 feet long. Students will be encouraged to write their names on the wall along with the total dollar amount they owe for student loans.

A laptop will be present where students will have the ability to go online and fill out a survey about their debt as well as sign up for the COSPA mailing list.

Through this installation, COSPA hopes to gain contact of students interested in joining the group, deconstruct the social stigma surrounding student debt, foster a sense of solidarity amongst students and use the data collected to paint a more accurate picture of the state of student debt on Denver campuses.

One of the main components of this project discussed at the meeting was the significance of listening. Every student, according to the group, has a story to tell, but might be too scared to tell it.

“Having an ear is half of the battle for some people,” another student said. “The oppressed are the least often heard.”

 

 

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