Students in Chicago and across the country plan to rally Wednesday as part of a national day of action to protest against college debt and racism on campuses.
Those participating in the nationwide "Million Student March" are also pushing for tuition-free public college, a $15 minimum wage for campus workers and "divestment from private prisons by all colleges." Students held the first Million Student March last November.
"The fight for free public college, the cancellation of student debt, and $15/hour minimum wage is by its very nature a struggle against racism and all forms of institutional discrimination," campaign organizers wrote on the Million Student March's website.
Students and recent graduates from the University of Illinois at Chicago are scheduled to rally tomorrow morning at the school's quad. UIC students as well as the Chicago Socialist Alternative and Chicago #Movement4Bernie are among those organizing the local protest.
The groups are making the following demands, as detailed in a news release:
Tuition-free public college
The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students take on crippling debt to get a college education. Many students don't even have the option of college because they simply cannot afford it. Education is a human right and must be made accessible to all!
Cancellation of ALL student debt
The average college graduate of the class of 2015 holds $35,000 in student debt. More than 40 million Americans share a total of $1.2 trillion in student debt. Over 40% of borrowers aren't currently making payments on their loans due to financial hardship.
$15 minimum wage for ALL campus workers
Top administrators take home six and seven figure salaries, while many campus workers are paid poverty wages and often rely on federal assistance to keep afloat. Schools invest in big projects like stadiums while workers who make our schools run can't make their rent. A $15/hour minimum wage would help to lift millions of people, especially people of color, out of poverty.
Divestment from private prisons by ALL colleges and universities.
Mass incarceration begins with the school-to-prison pipeline, or the systematic punishment and/or arrest of students of color for misbehavior or minor offenses. There's no reason for our institutions to be investing in this industry, especially in Chicago while schools are closing and funding is being cut.