To parallel the 'Occupy' movement and others of its ilk with the Arab Spring may seem strange, given that the Arab protestors were resisting a bloodthirsty dictator, while the 'Occupy' movement was more concerned with economic issues such as student loan debt and outrage over the 'bailout' of the Wall Street banks. However, although the lives of young people are not necessarily on the line, their livelihoods and futures are -- to be crippled with student loan debt at a young age can mean that one's credit score, job prospects, and even ability to raise a family in a home is endangered. This is why organizers are creating a 10-day teach-in in Union Square in the spirit of the 'Occupy' movement to raise awareness about the high cost of tuition. The event is called the 10 DAY NO MORE TUITION INCREASE PROTEST PLAN organized by Students Against Unfairness in College Education (#SAUCE).
Once upon a time, the American dream was that any person could become a success, provided that he or she was willing and able to work hard enough. Today's young people are following the directive to try to improve their prospects with hard work by pursuing a college education. But as the costs of education spiral out of control, achieving that middle-class dream with hard work seems increasingly elusive. In fact, it could be argued that it is a detriment rather than an asset for many young people to seek a college education. "In 2010, recent college graduates left school owing an average of $25,250 in student loans."[footnoteRef:1] Although college graduates still earn more than mere secondary school graduates, on average, many are finding out that the promise that a college degree will lead them to better prospects is a lie: "For many years, we have turned out more college graduates than the growth in the number of jobs in the technical, managerial, and professional areas where college graduates historically want to work. Therefore, we now have nearly 80,000 bartenders and taxi drivers with bachelor's degrees. One estimate is that 1 in 3 college graduates have a job historically performed by those with a high school diploma or the equivalent."[footnoteRef:2] [1: "Is a college degree still worth it?" U.S. News & World Report, 2013, Available: http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/is-a-college-degree-still-worth-it [3 Mar 2013]] [2: Richard Vedder, Going to College Is a Mistake for Many, U.S. News & World Report, 2013, Available: http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/is-a-college-degree-still-worth-it/going-to-college-is-a-mistake-for-many#comments [3 Mar 2013]]
Tuition, quite simply, cannot be raised and raised with the thin excuse that students will be easily able to pay back their loans with the 'good job' they can automatically count upon when they graduate. And there is no question that tuition hikes cause more suffering for the children of the lower, working, and middle classes, the students who theoretically need education the most to advance their position in society. Education was once the great leveler, but now it is the great divider, as members of the upper classes can afford to take unpaid internships during the summers, not work and concentrate on their studies during the school year, and make use of family connections to find jobs when all is 'said and done.'
Although the discrepancy between tuition and career prospects is evident in all segments of American society, within the hyper-wealthy city of New York, these divides become even more alarming. New York is a city of fantastic wealth, but also fantastic poverty. And students are starting to find themselves to be part of that poverty. While some students at desirably-located schools such as NYU may have parents that can support a 'New York lifestyle,' many others do not. NYU has the highest rate of student debt of any not-for-profit school in the country. This is not unsurprising, given that "tuition plus room and board costs well over $50K…The number is an incredible $659 million. More than Oprah Winfrey's yearly pay, and, as Gawker's Hamilton Nolan pointed out, more than the GDP of 12 countries."[footnoteRef:3] [3: Rosie Gray, "NYU has highest student loan debt in the nation," NYU Local, 2010, Available: http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2010/08/18/nyu-has-highest-student-debt-in-the-nation / [3 Mar 2013]]
Unless there is a demonstration of the injustice of how students are bankrupting themselves for college educations, people will turn a blind eye and forget about this fact. It is easy to ignore poverty…