Graduating To Debt

By: Rebecca Bender

After this long activist journey I have learned a lot. One thing i have learned are the challenges that come with making a movement. Many times students voices where not able to be heard. To try to make students voices heard i did the one thing many people don’t do, i asked. I set up a list of questions and sent it out to students who have graduated, students who are attending school, and students who plan to attend. When i received their feedback i made sure to read them over carefully. I was very pleased with my results but not exactly sure what to do with them. I made some into signage and even used some of the phrases people used such as “i feel locked up” and “im still a broke college student” to inspire my signage. The debt fence was a great way for students to be heard. I even found some statistics and facts that i posted to help make students aware. Not only did the debt fence help but i actively posted interesting articles and pictures on the Facebook page. This allowed the information to be shared and allowed for others to leave feedback. I hope the Facebook page continues and i plan to still post interesting articles when i find them.

Many of the testimonies from students included a lot about how they were unaware of how much college would really cost and how difficult it is to find a job after. With the education we receive you think they would make it easier for students to get a job. I think with how much you pay for a degree college should help set you up with a job for when you graduate. Students also need to be aware of what they are getting themselves into. In highschool they should inform you more how much an education really does cost. Another issue many of these testimonies included were that college needs to be at a more affordable rate. I even recently found an article about how students are choosing not to go to private schools even if they are accepted because they just can afford this and it is not looked like as a benefit but more so of a cost. Something needs to be done to make higher education more affordable.

If i had more time to do more with these testimonies i have a few things in mind of what i would do. I would have them be video testimonies, more in an interview from. I could then piece it together to make a longer video with multiple testimonies. I also would include them more on the Facebook page in hopes that they would cause others to respond. The mug shot idea was also really interesting. I just think that is something that would have to be done in person and very well-organized, it could cause a lot of positive feedback though. The possibilities are endless of what could be done i just with there was more time in the semester.

overall i believe our activist movement was successful. It created motion and got attention on campus both good and bad. At the beginning though, i was unaware of how this then did become an activist movement and i wish i had more direction at the beginning. I had never been put into a class where we were able to lead ourselves. I think there should be more independent studies rather than just the structured class room we are all so use too. I really enjoyed this class and got a lot out of it. I am going to miss UMass but i am very grateful for the experience i have gained but not thankful for the debt i have attained.

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