Students in universities across the United States participated in the “Million Student March” on Thursday, leaving their classrooms to advocate for changes in the higher public education system.
The march called for free public college tuition, the elimination of all current student debt, and a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers. The organizers noted that individual marches could also touch on higher pay for adjunct professors.
Reuters reported that over a hundred schools pledged to join the march, and about 50 students were seen at Northeastern University carrying signs that read “Degrees not receipts” and “Is this a school or a corporation?”
“Education should be free. The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education,” the organizers stated. “We are united to fight for education as a human right.”
The march occurred days after the president at the University of Missouri resigned following protests from the school’s football team, and after a national “Fight for $15” campaign calling for a nationwide $15 minimum wage held large rallies across the country, “many of which were led or bolstered by student activists.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt currently stands at $1.2 trillion under the Obama administration, which is more than double the figure of less than $600 billion under the Bush administration in 2006.
Students at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, carried signs that said things such as “Banks got bailed out, students got sold out,” and chanted “Fight! Fight! Fight! Education is a right!”
— KTSW San Marcos (@KTSW_899) November 12, 2015
The university’s radio station, KTSW 89.9, reported that students marched “until they reached the President’s House, where protesters gathered to voice their opinions and demands,” and that “several students that were against these demands approached the protest,” with one stating that the marchers’ “demands were absurd and wouldn’t resolve anything.”
— Andrew Adamson (@AndrewDAdamson) November 12, 2015
As students from Penn, Drexel, and the Community College of Philadelphia gathered to protest at City Hall, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported that the protests were sparked by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
In June, Sanders said Republicans in Congress would be forced to act on student debt if a million young people marched on Washington.