Socialist students admit student loan cancellation isn't the end game. It's ALL debt.
A Columbia University Young Democratic Socialists of America panel featured speakers calling out the Biden administration for not having a plan regarding student loan debt.
One speaker noted the perceived need for all debt to be cancelled.
The Young Democratic Socialists of America hosted a “Cancel ALL student debt” panel on Facebook, with one panelist citing the need for all debt, not just student loans, to be forgiven.
Emmaline Bennett, a student at Teachers College, Columbia University, hosted a panel for the Young Democratic Socialists of America Winter Conference preview.
The topic of the virtual seminar was “cancel all student debt” It featured panelists Astra Taylor, Luke Herrine, and Meleiza Figueroa.
Taylor is the author of Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay, and is an activist and co-founder of the Debt Collective. She spoke first about the socialist agenda and how it is linked to debt abolition.
“Why is this a socialist demand? So yeah, I’m a socialist and I see this as something that is part of a broader socialist politics,” she said.
The Debt Collective was established based on previous campaigns in which Taylor has participated, including the Strike Debt Project called “Rolling Jubilee” which works to collect funds and buy debt for “pennies on the dollar.”
Astra continued by talking about her views on a socialist country, saying “for me, socialism is both a vision of the future and a vision of the world we want to live in.”
When asked by someone in the virtual audience about the legal basis for student debt cancellation, Luke Herrine, a Ph.D. in Law candidate at Yale University, chimed in stating that “the Department of Education has had the power since it was created to compromise or wave or release or modify claims against anybody, including claims against student debtors.”
Herrine then mentioned the pause on student loans that was enacted by former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during the prior Trump administration and said he believes that the Biden administration will not live up to the socialist expectations that Taylor previously mentioned. He said that “my last understanding of the Biden administration is they genuinely haven’t decided what they’re going to do with respect to student loans, they want to keep the status quo.”
[RELATED: Betsy DeVos to Congress: Don’t forgive student loan debt]
Taylor continued on this point by saying that “part of the debt collectives’ emphasis on executive action is that we have a dysfunctional government, even with the Democrats in power.”
She continued by expressing her belief that the Biden administration is foregoing the use of executive action because it does not want to cancel student debt.
“You have this power and that means that if you’re not doing it, it’s a choice,” she stated. “Don’t pass the buck and blame the Republicans and blame the other side, which is what they love to do.”
Another question asked by the audience was “how does the start of the Biden Administration impact the movement to cancel student debt?”
”We’re entitled to this,” Astra replied. “People are entitled to having their debts demolished because this is a broken, failed system and it was a mistake.” She also pointed out that “Donald Trump has given more student debt relief than any Democrat and more than Joe Biden today.”
In her continued critique of the current administration, the activist stated that the cities which helped elect Biden are the communities calling for this debt abolition.
“Biden owes Philly,” stated Taylor. “Student debt is sucking resources and wealth away from exactly the working-class communities, Black voters, the struggling families that actually won the election for him.”
One of the attendees then asked a question about organizing to target debt cancellation for other sources of debt besides student loans, to which Taylor responded, “It’s usually a tweet by a Republican or conservative on Twitter that’s like ‘what, you want me to cancel student debt, and then your credit card bills and then your rent, and you know what’s next?’ and the answer that we give is always like ‘yes, that is exactly right’ because this is again part of a bigger system.”
In December 2020, Taylor gave credit to Republicans in an opinion piece titled Yes, Democracy is Socialism, in which also stated that “Republicans aren’t right about much, but they’re right about this.”
Bennett began to wrap up the seminar by talking about her school’s tuition strike that began in 2020. She stated that there are “at least 1,000 and possibly as much as almost 3,000 people currently withholding tuition.”
[RELATED: Columbia students go on strike, say Ivy League is ‘vampirically sucking every drop of blood’]
As Campus Reform previously reported, the students produced a list of demands for the school in December, which included a 10 percent decrease in tuition costs.
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