engineeringconnections

Photo courtesy of Becky Raspe

Cleveland State students march on Thursday, Nov. 12 from Fenn Tower to the Student Center courtyard to advocate for free public tuition for all.

November 16, 2015

 

Student march highlights high education costs

By Abbey White

More than 30 Cleveland State University students marched across campus Thursday, Nov. 12 to vocalize their support of the national #MillionStudentMarch.

Cleveland State, along with an estimated 110 U.S. colleges and universities, participated in the demonstration, according to StudentMarch.org, the national initiative’s official website.

Cleveland State’s event was organized by on-campus student activist groups, including The Student Socialist Society.

“Education is not a business, it’s a human right,” said Bri Emerson, a Cleveland State student and protest participant.

The march’s main goal centered on the right to a free college education, with additional aims of increasing campus worker wages and erasing student debt, which has swelled to $1 trillion this year.

Cleveland State’s event drew special attention to the number of Ohio and Cleveland State students who graduate in debt, as well as the university president’s $400,000 base salary in comparison to students’ debt.

According to The Institute for College Access and Success, Cleveland State students will graduate with an average debt of $24,856. Fifty-seven percent of those graduates completed their degree in debt. The average amount a student takes out in loans while attending a public university in Ohio is $29,353, with 67 percent of students in debt by the time they’ve finished their first four year degree.

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The Cleveland State protest spanned the entire campus as students walked from Fenn Tower through the Innerlink, ending at the courtyard behind the Student Center. Participants carried signs and could be heard chanting “Education is a human right!” and “Education – Not Militarization” through the campus hallways and on Euclid Avenue.

Support for the movement has been building since early June, when – in an interview with Yahoo!’s Katie Couric – presidential candidate Bernie Sanders encouraged a million young Americans to march on Washington and demand Congress address the student debt.

“If a million young people march on Washington,” Sanders told Couric June 1, “they [say] to the Republican leadership, we know what’s going on, and you better vote to deal with student debt.”

The national event included “high school, college, graduate students and recent graduates, campus workers, former students, parents and grandparents,” according to StudentMarch.org. Most of the Cleveland State participants are enrolled in undergraduate programs.

The #MillionStudentMarch follows a trend of wage rights protests, including a national fast food workers strike that took place only days before demanding the ability to unionize and earn a $15 minimum wage.

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