Students at campuses across the country participated in the Million Student March on Wednesday to demand an end to student debt. Fourteen members of Concerned Student 1950 organized a protest on MU’s campus for the event.
The protestors met outside of the MU Student Center and walked through the building chanting, “Student debt has got to go.” They were confronted by an MU police officer in front of Jesse Hall, who told protestors they would be subject to arrest or expulsion if they were too loud inside of school buildings. They entered Jesse Hall and silently stood in front of the Student Financial Aid office holding different signs – including one that read, “We are humans, not property. We demand $15 an hour minimum for all workers.”
According to the Institute for College Access and Students, 69 percent of students graduated with student debt in 2015, and Concerned Student 1950 member Kendrick Washington said debt affects black students the most.
“It’s increasingly harder for black students to get into a university,” Washington said. “Nine times out of ten, we are the first people in our families to go to college and we don’t have the same resources as our white counterparts to have the knowledge about loans, saving money and preparation for the future.”
According to data from MU, black students made up 8 percent of the student body in 2014, and Washington said that number will continue to decrease because it’s becoming increasingly difficult for many to afford college.
“This is one of the essential means to our existence as a university,” Washington said. “As we don’t have the resources to pay for the university, of course it’s going to be used as a barrier to kick us out and to eliminate us from the university and eventually, as time goes on, there will be no black bodies.”
Washington said the most important thing to remember about this year’s protests is, “We are not done yet.”
“This is only the beginning of what’s to come for black students at the university, and it’s increasingly important to understand that all these mechanisms they are using to try to oppress us or not talk about our injustices, we’re going to find other ways to surpass that,” he said.
Washington said Concerned Student 1950 will continue to share its narrative nationwide.