At the first Occupy Davis meeting last Friday (VIDEO), student debt and university issues came up several times. That’s not surprising, considering the high number of young people at the meeting and the college’s importance in this town.
Student-loan debt has continued to grow despite a financial crisis that constrained credit elsewhere, and the increasing burden amid high unemployment is driving at least part of the protests.
Last year, Americans began to owe more on their student loans then their credit cards, with student debt reaching the $1 trillion mark. Many have flocked to higher education during the down economy, only to find themselves still unemployed or underemployed.
One person at the first Occupy Davis meeting referred to UC Davis as the “largest corporation in the town,” saying that it should be an important part of the discussion as the movement progresses.
While most people in attendance agreed that the university’s role should be a major part of the conversation, many of them stopped short of singling it out as a “corporation.” Many of them said they were directly employed by UC Davis and that the university issue could be approached in a variety of ways.
This proposal can be found on OccupyDavis.org, among several other suggestions:
…That on Friday, 23 December 2011 Occupy Davis begins an official petition to make public universities free.
One person at that first meeting, who had just returned from Chile, told a story of protests that came as the South American country moved closer to a privatized university system. The protests materialized just as he was to fly back to the United States. When he landed here, Occupy Wall Street had gained momentum. He said he found the similarities significant.
Before Occupy Wall Street got started, the UC system raised tuition, and is expected to do so again in the near future. As students graduate with more debt and fewer job prospects, tension continues to build.
The First Day of Action is scheduled for Oct. 27 at UC Davis. A blog and a Facebook page have been created and posted on the Occupy Davis Facebook page, but it makes no specific mention of Occupy Davis
The time has come to voice our rage at the ongoing attack on public education in California and across the globe. This past July the UC regents raised tuition by almost 10%, bringing the total tuition increase for the fall to 17.6%.
… It’s time for students at UC Davis and across the state to stand united against such belligerent acts and to send a clear message to the administration that we will not sit idly by as they devastate the future of our communities. (Read the full statement on the Bicycle Barricade).
The Huffington Post article continues by looking that the age groups most represented at Occupy Wall Street.
While organizers say there’s no official “census” of who make up the protester base at Occupy events, the presence of student loan debtors and young, unemployed people, is noticeable. See a chart made by Mike Konczal, who parsed data from the related We Are the 99%.
You can get a decent sense for the age breakdown in the images that accompany this article. It’s very mixed, but it skews young.
Some students have already walked out of classes on UC campuses as part of the Occupy Colleges movement, which is in solidarity with the protesters on Wall Street. It’s yet to be seen exactly what the relationship between the two movements will be in Davis.
It’ll be worth watching, especially if the movement’s momentum continues to build and talk of tuition hikes heat back up.
Note: I visited the meeting Wednesday night but was not there for the final proposals. If you have more information about if/how university issues fit into the movement, please feel free to share.