There has been a lot of dialogue regarding the student loan forgiveness efforts over the last week or so. A lot of heightened emotions- both negative and positive. Of course, as with any social reform effort, some feathers may get ruffled. I, of course, have a lot to say on the matter. As a student and a contributing member of society, I absolutely understand why there have been celebrations revolved around the loan relief- I share in those sentiments. I have noticed, however, that there are a significant number of people that are outraged at the "unjust" or "unfair" relief programs specifically among those that have already contributed a substantial amount toward their overall loan. Throughout this thought piece, I will voice very little opinions on the matter. I will, however, provide some context about how this great nation reached a staggering $1.3 trillion dollars in student loan debt. Like, how is that even a real number? I have no idea. Anyway, let's begin.
Colleges and universities have historically always been a place to foster new and critical thought as well as promote the wellness of the collective through knowledge and education. The concept of higher education institution itself was developed (get this) by a woman in Fez, Morocco in 859 AD! The University of Al-Karaouine set the precedent for all future universities across the globe. I have always, and will always, be a nerd to my core. Something incredibly special about the shared spirit of scholarship and human innovation. It is said that you can measure the success of a society by their universities. Sparing you the history lesson, I will move into what our universities are saying about us, the leaders of the free world.
Up until the civil rights movement, majority of the universities and colleges of the united states were actually free. Any expenses were easily affordable by simply picking up a small summer side gig. It wasn't until the influx of new black students and the subsequent women flooding the halls of universities after the second woman's suffrage movement that higher education began charging exuberant amounts for tuition and other college-related expenses. We can account for inflation as much as we try to, however, these nuances must be understood and digested if we are to continue attempting to solve structural and societal problems that affect the entirety of this country.
Since this is a blog post and not a research paper, I will include only one link to these claims and encourage you to do your own research if you are serious about understanding the political climate and its repercussions (something I would highly recommend especially if you have children or plan to.)
The current political discourse revolved around student loan forgiveness is banal. Frankly, I'm bored of it altogether. Unless we are actually banding together to discuss a solution to the problem, not a bandaid to the problem, I want no parts in it. The truth of the matter is that universities need to be held to some level of responsibility for charging what they do- without, at the very least, compensating their employees with a livable wage. In fact, the Gen Z of American University (God bless their souls) walked in to their freshman year in Washington, DC this past week to find their educators on a strike. Educators were protesting the small salaries they're being compensated while the university itself made over 100 million dollars in revenue this past school year. Gen Z saw this abhorrent sight and within 24 hours rallied the entire freshman class to walk out of their orientation. They demanded the school pay their staff properly. And guess what? They won. The institution is now instating a new wage increase for their employees.
The problem itself is not entitlement (although there are many people with this attitude toward the whole ordeal), it is a structural flaw and injustice. The protest to forgive student loans is futile without addressing the underlying issue- which in and of itself is rooted in mysogny and racism. We can argue that presidents of higher education institutions were just opportunists that capitalized off of the new-found rights of black Americans and women entering academia- or we can call it what it is- injustice against marginalized groups.
It is for this reason that no matter what side of the proverbial spectrum you fall on, it is our responsibility to those who've paved the way and those that will come after to continue to push for systemic reform in this nation. Our work is good but it is far from over. Instead of expending energy on pointless discourse and opinion slinging on the internet, we should understand the root causes of the problem and mitigate their effects in the long term. Otherwise, we can wipe out every last dollar of existing debt and it we'll just find a new innovative way to cheat people into indentured servitude.
Peace and blessings, always.