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Teach-in Addresses Student Debt

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Photo Courtesy of David Hall

Article Written by Joe Krzyston

 

On Tuesday, April 4, faculty, staff and students attended a teach-in about student debt, which was held in the atrium of the Colket Center. The teach-in was organized by Daniel Osborne, a senior history major. The event began with remarks from Osborne, who emphasized the scope of the issue and the extent to which students were affected.

“Even those of us who hold no debt are affected by this issue. It has wide-reaching effects on economic, social, and political issues,” said Osborne at the beginning of the event. Osborne, who personally holds no debt, takes interest in the issue as one side of a broader conversation about debt.

“Our economy is primarily a debt economy and that is not without consequence. If we could move debtors to vote as a bloc and to come together around this issue it could really move the needle on a lot of issues.” Osborne’s sentiments were echoed in large part by the faculty members on the panel.

“Being free from debt is a form of privilege,” said Dr. Gregory Rosenthal, a history professor. “And to carry debt is a form of oppression. We forget that and we rarely discuss the issue in that framework.”

Dr. Edward Nik-Khan, a business professor, also spoke about the social aspects of debt, aspects that seldom receive attention outside of the depths of academia. “Debt is a limit to individual freedom, and the last thing that some forces want is a widespread awareness of limits to personal freedom,” Nik-Khan said.

Towards the end of the hour, President Mike Maxey made statements regarding the issue. His perspective was one of conflicting responsibilities, given his duty to keep the college financially solvent and to keep tuition affordable.

After noting that the single largest part of the budget is financial aid, President Maxey said, “The path that we are on is not the right path, but we know that, and we are doing what we can to change it.”

Osborne is pleased with the result of the teach-in, though he is quick to acknowledge the need to do more on the issue. Although he graduates in May, he is working with students who will be around next year to keep the discussion going. Osborne said, “I wish I could have done more during my time here, but I’m glad that we got the ball rolling and I’m hopeful that students who come after me will continue the discussion.”