DENVER – On Thursday, students from more than 100 campuses, including Fort Lewis College, will join a national day of action demanding tuition-free public college, cancellation of all student debt, and a $15 minimum wage for campus workers.
Elan Axelbank, an organizer at Northeastern University in Boston, says continued state budget cuts and rising tuition costs have created an education crisis. He says in the richest nation in the world, students shouldn’t have to take on what he calls crippling debt to get a college degree.
“So in order for you to get an education, you have to take out loans from these private industries, who are profiting off of the fact that we just want to get an education so we can contribute to society in the best way that we possibly can,” he said.
The march at Fort Lewis College will begin at 4 p.m. at Whalen Gymnasium and proceed to Reed Library.
Axelbank says, on average, this year’s class of college graduates will have to pay back more than $35,000 in student loans.
Axelbank admits a single day of protest won’t magically win the group’s three demands. He says students will need to plan for a sustained effort and make strategic partnerships with other movements such as Black Lives Matter, organized labor, and the national “Fight for Fifteen” minimum-wage effort.