notes on stu-debt activist groups


Debt Stories from Young Activists United, St. Louis

Searching online for “student debt activist groups” brought varied offerings.  While I’ve provided a list of more well-known activist efforts at the bottom of this post, I discovered several new directions including targeting public school curriculum and Tea Party rhetoric.

Young Activists in St. Louis  The lack of preparedness among high school students for the sticker shock of college debt is being taken on by Young Activists United StL, a coalition of “young social justice activists in St. Louis.”  They seek to change high school curriculum to include financial literacy about the hazards of student debt.


Like many groups working on student debt, this group’s website also includes the debt load mugshots that have become a widely-used visual tactic of the student debt movement. Picture 3

Tea-Party Hyperpole?  The “Student Debt War Project”  by “parent” Morgan Fisher, includes some useful overview information on the magnitude of the student debt crisis.  His perspective seems to reflect a Tea Party line that singularly blames the federal government and Obama as primary culprits.

What’s left out is any discussion of the underlying role of the finance industry and the trickle-down effects of seismic cuts to public education due to a right-wing “cut big government, cut taxes” ideology.   This neoliberal agenda has caused a massive shift from grants to loans and sharply declining government aid  — two interrelated factors that have fueled the soaring cost of higher education.

ObamaBrownShrtsThe site blares inflammatory language: “Obama Brownshirts Violate Student Debt Laws” and “Beating America’s Student Debt Gestapo.” This is standard Tea-Party rhetoric that likens Obama to Hitler – a rhetorical slam that seems filled with inchoate racist enmity that transforms a moderate corporate centrist into a demonic villain; by equating student debt with human genocide, the double-edged racism of this language also trivializes the utter horror of the Holocaust.

Coming from a libertarian right-wing perspective,  the “Student Debt War Project” indicates the importance of being careful, critical readers: well-informed on the complexity of political issues and the different kinds of ideologies underlying policy proposals.

Student Debt Activist Groups  Here’s a list of some of the leading organizations and websites advocating around the issue of student debt.  A recent blog post in Dollars & Sense offers a surface discussion of the difference of some of these groups.

There’s some overlap and what looks like actual coordination between several groups.  It would be purposeful for there somehow to be a more active, public discussion between these different players to gain a better sense of the underlying differences in political thinking and pragmatic logic.  An attempt to bring some of these efforts together is represented by the final site, I Am Not A Loan which is a joint venture of the Education Trust and a national organizing collective which includes Robert Applebaum.

1. Robert Applebaum’s site










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