DENVER – On Thursday, students from the Auraria campus will be joining others from over 100 colleges and universities for a national day of action demanding tuition-free public college, cancellation of all student debt and a $15 minimum wage for campus workers.
Elan Axelbank, an organizer at Northeastern University in Boston, said continued state budget cuts and rising tuition costs have created an education crisis. In the richest nation in the world, students shouldn’t have to take on what he calls crippling debt to get a college degree, he said.
“So in order for you to get an education, you have to take out loans from these private industries who are profiting off of the fact that we just want to get an education so we can contribute to society in the best way that we possibly can.”
On average, this year’s class of college graduates will have to pay back over $35,000 in student loans. U.S. government data shows more than 40 million people share over a trillion dollars in debt, and Axelbank said 58 percent of that is held by the poorest 25 percent of Americans.
While he knows a single day of protest won’t magically win the group’s three demands, he said, students will need to plan for a sustained effort and make strategic partnerships with other movements such as Black Lives Matter, organized labor and the national “Fight for 15” minimum wage effort.
“It’s going to be a public pressure campaign that gets this won. And if we look at history, all major victories for oppressed people, and the working class in general, have come from mass movements, mass public-pressure movements.”
This story was produced by Colorado News Connection.
Photo credit: Photo credit: Michael Fleshman, Creative Commons, Flickr.