On February 1, 2022, the relief student-loan borrowers have had since the start of the pandemic will be stripped away and they will be thrown back into repayment — whether they're ready or not. And most of them are not. The Student Debt Crisis Center, in partnership with Savi — a social impact technology startup — released the results of the fourth installment of the Student Debt x COVID-19 series on Wednesday examining the impact of the pandemic on student-loan borrowers. It found that although student-loan company communication to borrowers has improved since June, 89% of fully-employed borrowers say they do not feel financially secure enough to resume payments in a few months. One in five of the respondents said they will never feel financially-secure enough to restart their student-loan payments.
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Language assistants at Grinnell can be asked to work up to 20 hours per week, although it’s unclear how many hours are actually scheduled for the typical student worker. However, if someone worked 20 hours per week every week for the full academic year (nine months) at $12/hour, they would still only make $9,072. Even including the value of room and board, which the language assistants receive for free, their income is still only $23,470 for the year — about $5,000 less than what is considered a living wage for Poweshiek County, Iowa, where Grinnell is located.
Over 3,000 Columbia graduate student workers have been on strike since November 3. This is the latest in a series of actions by graduate students workers in universities across the US, many of which are extremely wealthy. The Columbia graduate student workers are demanding fair pay and healthcare benefits. The Student Workers of Columbia has been negotiating a contract with the university for more than four years now.
As the student occupation of Howard University’s Blackburn Center has entered its fifth week, protesters have garnered significant support for their demands that administration at the historically black university immediately address deplorable living conditions. In early October, students occupied the Blackburn Center to protest vermin infestations, mold, asbestos and other conditions overseen by the for-profit building management company Corvias. Students have camped outside the building in tents demanding that Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick convene a school-wide town hall meeting to discuss student and alumni representation on the Howard board of trustees, improved living conditions and freedom from legal and academic repercussions for student protesters.
The violence wreaked by U.S. wars since 9/11 has been immense — more than 929,000 total deaths, including an estimated 380,000 civilian deaths. And the U.S. has spent a staggering $14 trillion in Pentagon expenditures since the Afghanistan War in 2001, up to one-half of which went directly to defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon. While these facts are outrageous, they aren’t surprising in a country built on colonial violence — a country whose power and expansion are derived from war-making, with such militarism being grounded in every institution arising from the state, including education. Students and young people are witnesses to the ways in which the U.S. education system is deeply complicit with war and militarism, and in increasing numbers we are demanding change.