Auraria students demand debt-free future at Million Student March

Dozens of students walked out of classes yesterday to gather at the center of Denver’s Auraria campus to demand a debt-free future after graduation.

The meet-up took place under a banner that read “MSU Pres. Jordan will leave with 1.2 million retirement bonus. Grads leave with $24,067 in debt. #DebtFreeFuture.”

MillionStudentMarchAlieLetterDelivery-1Later on, those students would peacefully storm Metropolitan State University President Stephen Jordan’s office, trying to deliver a voided check written out to him in the amount of $1.2 million.

Across Colorado campus organizations joined forces with tens of thousands of students nationwide to bring attention to the financial burden most students face.

Protestors demanded three things: tuition-free public college, cancellation of all student debt and a $15-an-hour campus-wide minimum wage at every college in the country.

Roshad Bliss of Black Lives Matter 5280 took the bullhorn to share his story of being a graduate school dropout, no longer able to pay his own way through college.

“I still stand in solidarity with all of the young people who are working to make sure that their lives and their futures are treated as an asset and a resource for themselves and this world and not as a business, like the presidents and administrators of this campus treat our people as a source of revenue.”

MillionStudenMarchStudents-1The Million Student March came together with the CU Denver student-organized Solidarity With Mizzou action held earlier in the day.

Bliss said racism and economics were undeniably intertwined. “So many of our universities were built on the backs of slaves. The fact that poverty and economic disenfranchisement affects black and brown people translates to them having higher student debt than white students. It’s connected.”

Denver Student Labor Action Project organizers led chants and calls-to-action. Campus organizations covering student alliance, cultural advocacy and health issues came out to demand students have higher quality life on all fronts.

“The fight for reproductive justice goes hand-in-hand with the fight for our economic future,” said Justine Sandoval, campus organizer for NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “if you can’t control your reproductive freedom, it makes a big difference. We should be able to take control of our bodies.”

MillionStudentMarchKelsey-1The group marched across campus to the Metro president’s office, planning to deliver the voided $1.2 million check and a letter requesting a meeting to talk about their own economic futures.

After trekking up four floors, the group was unable to meet with the president in person, but his staffers said they would give him the letter.  

Some students seemed deflated that the president didn’t meet with them. Others considered the day’s actions a success, if only in getting student organizations from across campus to unite on the issue of student debt.

“Today we helped organize a large part of the Million Student March,” said Alie Hermanutz of the Denver Student Labor Action Project. “And that’s what you’re seeing manifest right now.”