This is an historic week for organizers and others who have been fighting for years for debt relief and free public college. Since 2014 members of the Debt Collective have been pushing for relief. Now their demands have gone from the margins to the mainstream.
As the saying goes: Then they ignore you. First they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
This week, we got a little bit closer to winning.
On Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the College for All Act that if passed would eliminate all $1.6 trillion in student loans currently on the books. The bill would also make public college free.
Debt Collective members were present in Washington DC at a press event announcing the bill.
One of the first student debt strikers, Pamela Hunt, a single mother who owes over $200,000 in student loans, spoke in favor of the bill. “We organized for years and, as a result, some debtors won relief although I haven’t,” she explained. “I lost my home and nearly lost my life in a fight against cancer. But you know what I haven’t lost? These illegitimate and immoral student loans that are still haunting me. You know what else I also haven’t lost? I haven’t lost myself or my desire to fight.”
Debt Collective organizer Thomas Gokey said, “When people get sick, we owe them healthcare; if they are homeless, they deserve shelter; if they want to learn, they should be able to go to school without being weighed down by unpayable loans at usurious rates. These are the moral debts we are currently defaulting on and that we should pay by expanding public services.”
Robbie Tribble explained: “I started organizing against student debt because my wife fell victim to the for-profit education sector. In 2011 she was working at Taco Bell and wanted to get ahead, better her life. We got married in 2015 and had a son Brayden. When he was 2 months old, we had our tax refund check stolen by the Department of Education, on behalf of this predatory school. We have had our Borrowers Defense application ignored by the Department of Education for years now, and every time they take our money my blood pressure goes up. We must cancel student debt now.”
These powerful stories were accompanied by statements from Senator Sanders and Reps. Jayapal and Omar. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was also present to support the bill.
Members of the Debt Collective know how hard we have worked to get this far. And we know that we’re going to have to come together as a group and work even harder to see the College for All Act become a reality. That is what we are going to do. Join our community to find out about organizing calls and to learn how to get involved.
Join the movement.
Watch the whole press conference here: