A Debt Fence for Community Dialogue on the Economic Squeeze
To generate a community dialogue around the severity of student debt and the economic squeeze so many are facing, we are creating a grassroots signage campaign around campus, including a “debt fence” outside the Student Union. We want students to understand that they are not alone in facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Beginning with mug shots that display the debt load a student faces, we hope to post other first-person testimonials, photos, information, articles, artwork, quotes, and more to grab the attention of students, faculty, and campus employees as they pass by.
To make this a grassroots process that engages a wide range of people, we seek to enlist various classes, departments, groups and organizations around campus to help support and expand this dialogue.
For students, faculty, and teaching assistants, we ask you to consider how you might work some project assignment related to your class topic into varied issues this touches: the larger social burden of indebtedness, economic justice, a fair economy, visioning alternative futures, sustainability, social change, grassroots communication strategies, social media activism, political art, civic engagement, community dialogue, etc.
The project is being organized by an independent study group in the Department of Communication. The group is focused on mobilizing campus support through a combination of online and in-real-life activist strategies. Some of the social media that’s part of this campaign include:
1. UMASS STUDENTS AGAINST DEBT at http://www.facebook.com/UMassStudentDebt
2. the debtor games, you are not a-loan, at http://studentagainstdebt.tumblr.com/
3. for a comedic take, check out PoorUmassStudent@UMass@UMassDebtPrblmz at https://twitter.com/UMassDebtPrblmz
It would be ideal for each member of the group to consider creating two pieces of sinage as a way to contribute to the debt fence when we finally put it together the last weekend in March. In addition to participating in this way, each person could come up with approximately three articles each as well and possibly draft a few inspirational quotes (also could be part of sinage) to include on the fence. As a final way to participate, we will attempt to make as many connections as possible throughout the UMass campus in efforts to gain their support and participation with our project.
Edited by Erika Klein, Margaret Sullivan, and Gemma Santamaria