Author Archives: etornero96

Through Mass Movements We Have The Power

I originally came into this research relatively ignorant to the things that student debtors go through as they struggle pay their way out of their loan debt. As you grow up it is already put into your head that you’ll have to take out loans in order to afford college and pay it back afterwards even if you might have to struggle. Since before we even start college we have already accepted this monumental and unfair action as the norm for attending college. It is hard to imagine any other way beside the only way we have known.

Because of this when I stumbled upon Hillary Clinton’s New College Compact plan that minimizes the amount of loans you have to take out, and even lets you refinance your current debt situation, I found it to be the perfect solution to our current problem.

Until I continued reading the stories of debtors that let me see how the things others say, such as you could afford to pay for tuition or your debts if you work alongside school, really doesn’t work for everyone. And even then if you can sometimes it doesn’t even help make a dent in your debt. Along with requiring the help of family even if it may be a small amount, it really doesn’t work when you’re on the middle line of poverty and have other things to pay for besides your child’s tuition.

In this case you realize Hillary’s Plan really cannot work for everyone, especially for those with a low economic status. It is a plan that effectively ensures the paralyzing of low income families economic status, even if that isn’t her intent.

After more in depth research I realized that everyone would benefit by having higher education be completely free. One, it would benefit our society if it were filled with academically enriched citizens. Two, it would increase the economy because we would have successful working citizens.

Even after coming to that realization, I did not think it a possibility. It is hard to imagine something like that ever happening because we are so used to correlating college with the word debt. But, it is exactly this sort of mentality that inhibits the progress of our debt problem. If we do not looks past that sort of mentality then we will never achieve fixing our debt.

My thinking has made a complete turn and my biggest realization has been that through mass we are powerful and we can change the way 20130618_BRAZIL_EMBED-slide-DOAD-articleLargethings have been for a long time we just have to realize first the power that we hold.

 

 

 

Image was borrowed from: http://static01.nyt.com/images/2013/06/18/world/americas/18brazil-pic-for-mobile/20130618_BRAZIL_EMBED-slide-DOAD-articleLarge.jpg

 

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Strike Against The Higher Education System To End Tuition

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In order to convince young student debtors that they should bind together and strike the higher education system to end tuition, I created a PSA poster that conveys the anger and frustration that student debtors feel, in order to convince them to fight for what is their right.

While there are student loan debtors who are older than the target audience, this poster specifically reaches out to young student loan debtors because they are in the prime of their debt. Some have finished college and others are about to finish and are starting to feel the pressure of having to pay off their loans. In general I believe this younger generation has more of a drive to fight for what they believe to be correct as opposed to those who have been paying for a good amount of years and have already accepted their situation.

The emotion that I was trying to tap into was that of the anger debtors experience at having to pay for something that they shouldn’t have to. The way that I decided to do that was by choosing an image that clearly depicted the action that I wanted to take place, but that also visibly portrayed the the debtors seeming angry and frustrated. You can see in the way their faces scrunch up as they scream their displeasure and anger.  The signs that they are holding up also portray the anger seeing as no one uses that sort of language unless they are in a state of frustration.

I also tried to tap into the emotion of anger by clearly stating in the message that higher education is their right rather than a privilege. This implies that higher education is something that belongs to them. When a person feels as though something belongs to them it is in their nature to take back what someone has incorrectly taken from them, even if it means having to fight for it. Which brings me to the action that the poster shows should take place; striking. Not only have I specifically mentioned it in my message but I have also placed an image that clearly shows the action being done.

The topic of discussion is not something many take lightly so I tried to use colors to portray a sense of seriousness to the poster topic. I chose the color black as the background, a color that is usually associated with things that are not good. Dark colors can be related to terrible events, such as black dress codes for events of mourning. Setting the background black creates an atmosphere and feeling that is hopefully negative, like the debt situation. It also matches the color scheme of the black and red poster one of the protesters is holding in the image. Red, also typically a color that is attached to the emotion of anger.

The type of font that was chosen was used in a way that would represent an important and serious topic. The font is straight and sharp edged, typically used to write important papers containing important topics. It is critical to stress the graveness of the situation in order for it to be taken seriously and in order for their to be actions taking place against it. The more legitimate the poster seems, the more people will take our debt situation seriously.

Image was borrowed from : http://www.oxbridgeessays.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/protesters.jpg

Why I Believe A Mass Movement is Necessary to Change Our Student Loan Crisis

.Student loan debts are becoming increasingly hard to pay off. Interest rates are too high and the degrees we went to school for are simply not helping us find jobs. I believe a massive movement of debtors simultaneously defaulting their loans would successfully provide a change that the higher education system desperately needs.

Image from Google

Image from Google

Everyone knows that individually defaulting on your loans brings about serious repercussions that would undoubtedly bring on a lot more hardship than when you were paying your debt; there is no doubt about that. But defaulting in mass would instead eliminate those sorts of problems. A movement like this would take away the  individuality because it would create a larger sense of a problem. Those in charge would be thinking about the situation as a whole and not about targeting the individuals.

If officials were to instead speculate on the individual midst of a larger problem, then we really need to consider what kind of government we are currently under.

Now if we take the time to look at other movements like Black Lives Matter, they all have been done in mass without repercussions to the individuals involved.  Instead movements such as these have brought forth many achievements. So far they have achieved raising the awareness to important questions about our justice system. Because of this movement we now have police officers wearing cameras on their person.

In another case, in the CSU system, recently in years previous professors went on a campus wide strike where they cancelled classes in order to pressure those in charge to give them a much needed raise in salary. This then resulted in those in charge granting the professors a small raise. Despite the raise still not being enough, there was rapid movement on behalf of the other side.

Looking at another important mass movement that brought us to where we are today, the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. Before it blacks were not allowed to eat, shop, vote or attend the same colleges as everyone else. This movement is now the result of integrated schools, jobs and political statuses. Not too long ago was our first black president elected, an act that too was a result of this movement. While it was a triumphant movement there were also hardships endured throughout the whole process.

Image from Google

Image from Google

A mass movement isn’t easy. They consist of hardship, patience, and persistence, but they are a necessity so that society may continue to unfold and progress in better ways than they are.

Looking at these examples and endless more we know that if we act in mass, there will be movement and there will be change.

Why A Massive Movement of Defaulting Student Loans Wouldn’t Work

As of late there has been much speculation on how to fix our student loan debt crisis. Some have come to the conclusion that having a massive and collective student loan debt default movement is the answer to fixing our problem.

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Image from Google

But those who oppose believe that a movement like this would not be a successful endeavor because no one would actually make the decision to default seeing as the consequences that arise afterwards are too harsh.

As mentioned previously student loan debts are the hardest loans to get rid of and if you decide to default there so many factors that could worsen your situation. One of the biggest and most intense repercussions is that the moment you default your pending balance is due all at once instantly. A burden you were so hopefully trying to get rid of all of a sudden comes knocking at your door at full force seemingly all the more worse and frightening.

A commenter on the NY Times, a “divorced mother of three in the late 1980’s”, defaulted on her loans and this is what she said regarding her experience in defaulting, “With default, penalties and interest continue to accrue; collection agencies hounded me relentlessly. I have never fully recovered. My debt is now over $25000 with penalties and interest.”

The moment your account goes into default you completely lose the privilege to be a part of any sort of payment plans, and to receive financial aid in the future.  I’m not sure what’s worse if the fact that interest rates continue to pile up during default or that you run the risk of having a percentage of your paycheck withheld so that it then be distributed to your outstanding debt balance.

As a commenter on the website Quora said, “ Defaulting on student loans is emotionally draining — nobody wants to be characterized as a deadbeat.” The onset of new problems that arise when you default also affect your emotional state in the sense that your stress isn’t alleviated but instead intensified with the new repercussions that come with defaulting.

Image from Google

Image from Google

Those who oppose believe that the situation that defaulting your loans places you in is a much worse state to be in than if you didn’t default and that is why a massive movement of student debtors would never actually happen; people are all too aware of what happens if you do.

Why all Student Debtors Should Default Their Loans

Supporters believe that a massive movement of defaulting student loans is necessary to change the higher education system because we have already seen progress as a result of smaller scale movements.

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Image from Google

The predicaments in which some debtors find themselves in have nothing to do with their “lack” of moral duty, but they simply cannot afford to pay off their loans no matter what they do. Student loan debts are the hardest type of loans to get rid off because you are not allowed to file for bankruptcy. They are also very difficult to pay off if you are in a modest economic state. It is exactly for this reason that many debtors a year make the decision to individually default on their student loans. Without any other options what is a person to do?

Recently it was found that students who were enrolled in colleges under the control of Corinthian Colleges Incorporation were mislead in their academic guidances. This then lead to students taking out loans for careers that would not turn out to be prosperous even though they had been told otherwise.

This resulted in a large movement by The Debt Collective “a new membership organization that leverages collective power by offering debtors a shared platform for organization, advocacy, and direct action. Alone, our debts are a burden; together, they make us powerful.”

As originally planned the group wanted to find one million student with high debt to come together and simultaneously default on their student loans. They believed a move like this would pressure those in charge to make a movement to better our higher education system.

In the end they were not able to find one million willing to participate even though one million debtors ended up defaulting that year individually.

In light of the Corinthians students case, they instead gathered a moderately sized group of students who then refused to pay off their loans. They started off with, “Corinthian because they met all the requirements for a group of debtors who could see it was in their interest to act collectively.”

With the pressure this then presented to those in charge, the Corinthian students were relieved of their debt, an act “that wouldn’t have happened without the pressure from this debt strike.”

As well as being forgiven of their debt, this movement also made it so that The Department of Education develop a new program that lets students “cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of discretionary income” and “Any debt remaining will be forgiven after 20 years”.

If a small group of students were able to make a change in the education system, an even bigger group would be able to make a massive political movement. This could then result in an overhaul of the whole economic structure of our higher education system. Much like statistics, when you want to find the probability of an event occurring in a large amount, you take a small sample out of the whole population.

This small movement, in its effectiveness, is proof of what could happen if students as a whole gathered together and defaulted all at once. The system would have no choice but to fall into the pressure and make a change.

Image from Google

Image from Google

Why Are We Blaming College Students for Loan Debts?

The posts before this have had to do with what some presidential candidates are proposing for our student loan crisis. For this post specifically it would be interesting to separate what candidates are saying and instead look at what people are saying about our problem. Specifically one comment that I’ve seen consistently, “I have no sympathy for someone who attends an expensive private school and then complains of the cost.”

In the New York Times there is an article titled,  “We’re Being Punished by Crippling Student Debt”, posted under the “What College Students Should Care About In This Presidential Election” blog. It is written by a third year student at the Syracuse University College of Law. It consists of her explaining how her debt situation is going to affect her life,  which is “ guaranteed to be financially unstable, thanks to the burden of staggering student debt.” A reality that is not only hers but of a vast majority.

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University of Southern California: Image from Google

When the topic of student loans arise I’ve noticed a tendency to blame students for choosing an expensive school when they could have gone to a less expensive one. But I think we should take into consideration that sometimes expensive colleges end up having a better education system, or a better program for what you need specifically. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the name but what the school can provide to nurture the student. How could we then blame a student for wanting to go to a place where they feel they will be offered a great chance to be properly prepared to go into their field? Why would someone have to deprive themselves of a good education by choosing to go to a school that is cheaper that may not be as good of school?

This then brings us to the realization that institutions especially the most expensive ones need to start “reigning in spending”, as mentioned by a commenter on the Times. A lot of what is making colleges expensive is their all star group of college professors and the college putting their own pricings on things you don’t need but help “keep the school running”. Those were the words of my counselor.  Institutions need to start making college more affordable instead of rising prices every year.

college-receipt-meme

Image From Google

The  place where we learn should be facilitating our academic endeavors not making it hard to achieve them.

The way people should be choosing their college of choice is not by whether they’d be able to afford it but by what school would be able to provide them with the best education in order for them to have a successful career. If expensive colleges happen to provide a good education then why should that stop a student?  And if we reach deeper into the root of the problem then why not stop making colleges so expensive?

Not Enough Coverge on Bernie Sanders

In the last post we compared Bernie Sanders ideas on education with that of Hillary Clinton’s “New College Compact”. For this post I had planned on discussing what those affected by this topic are saying about these two candidates. But, while trying to find comments on these candidates I found that the media is not covering Bernie Sanders nearly as much as Hillary.

We all go to Google when trying to find information on topics and for the most part we rely on credible sources to make up our judgment. When typing in Hillary Clinton’s name it is safe to say that there is an abundant amount of articles that pop up from reliable sources. Though when Bernie Sanders is searched it is nothing compared to that of Hillary’s.

It also appears that I am not the only one that has come to that realization.

Margaret Sullivan, editor of the NY Times, has recently addressed the issue concerning the lack of publication in the Times specifically. “I’ve heard a great deal from readers, unhappy about both quantity and tone of The Times’s stories. And Sanders articles have generated thousands of reader comments along the same lines.” The lack of coverage Sanders is receiving has commenters saying things like, “It seems the editors have decided the race already and have written him off.”

The frustration amongst those in favor of Sanders doesn’t end there, but the topic of tone when he is written of is also an issue. Supporters have been quick to notice that when there is coverage the publisher tends to sound dismissive never concentrating on important issues, instead choosing to cover and comment on things as superfluous as Sanders hair.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participates in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 2015.  Sanders will announce his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday, presenting a liberal challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a "democratic socialist," will follow a statement with a major campaign kickoff in his home state in several weeks. Two people familiar with his announcement spoke to The Associated Press under condition of anonymity to describe internal planning. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Image From Google

It is interesting enough to see that at the end of her article, Sullivan claims that there has been enough coverage according to numbers, but also admits that it has been very biased and not informative, “ The Times has not ignored Mr. Sanders’s campaign, but it hasn’t always taken it very seriously…regrettably dismissive, even mocking at times…focused on the candidate’s age, appearance and style, rather than what he has to say.”

It is very eye opening to see someone who is on the side that is currently being scrutinized own up to the complaints being made. It makes the claims against the Times all the more valid and not so biased.

After publishing her article Sullivan took a step further and gathered up some comments from Times reviewers and sent them to the senior editor for politics, Carolyn Ryan. Sullivan herself believes these comments have truth behind them but the response she received from the editor differed from hers. “We​ ​respect the passion of Sanders ​supporters. But I ​think ​they may be overlooking much of the coverage that we have provided​.” Ryan then goes on to list many of the articles that they have written of Sanders and even goes as far as mentioning that the Times hired reporters to travel alongside Sanders in order to keep up with his campaign.

These statements have brought even more outrage from commenters. It seemed that for every example Ryan gave commenters found other instances in which they recalled lack of publicity in the Sanders campaign. “You have reporters assigned to Bernie’s campaign but no one covered the HUGE, record breaking rally in Boston last night?” “It seems that Ms. Ryan is in denial and can only fall back on absurd conspiracy theories to explain why so many of us have been upset at this ludicrously unbalanced, dismissive coverage and the complete absence of the kind of journalistic neutrality that would take all candidates seriously rather than prejudging outcomes”

Despite Ryans response commenters are not pleased. In fact she has only brought out more complaints from supporters and even unbiased viewers.

Despite the Times coming out with this article, many still have problems with the content written by Sullivan such as, “Still waiting for genuine coverage of Bernie Sanders. Very disappointed in NYT.” This comment was written on October 8th, 2015, yet the article was published in early September bringing to light that despite the public confession, the Times has still not changed the way they cover Sanders, “ You don’t have to be a Sanders supporter to see how unfair the coverage has been.” An act so obvious that even those who aren’t supporters are aware of.

The lack of coverage from major companies and news sources impact how much people are informed. In effect it also impacts who votes and who we as college students or student debt victims vote for. No doubt there are a lot of college students who are in support of Hillary Clinton, but, why? Is it because we are not being properly informed on other candidates plans and Hillary Clinton is without a doubt a very famous name? In order to come to sound conclusions, we need to be properly informed.

An act that I believe is not being done.