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Occupy’s student-debt refusal a poor idea

Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011

Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 01:11

Student loan debt is a growing concern within the Occupy movement, and a group of New York protesters have a solution: absolve all student debt.

A student-debt refusal campaign, scheduled to kick off today, wants students and graduates to sign a pledge that if a million people agree to it, they will refuse to make any more student loan payments.

Andrew Ross, a New York University professor and an outspoken proponent of the Occupy movement, wants the current lending system to be overhauled, in addition to the forgiveness of outstanding debts, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

To proponents of the idea, it may seem like a logical step in line with President Barack Obama's increasingly liberal changes to federal lending, such as his plan to forgive debt after 20 years of payments. However, complete debt forgiveness is a foolish idea, seemingly removed from the original thrust of the movement.

There is no better example of the undue sense of entitlement prevalent among America's youth than the idea that their financial debts could be wiped away with no repercussions.

Most protesters would agree the financial institutions responsible for the current economic crisis acted irresponsibly. Yet, many now wish to take no responsibility for their own debts, which they personally accrued. Any legitimate ideas the movement stands for are being drowned out by misguided campaigns such as this one.

Students across the nation last week joined in several organized protests, including a walk-out Thursday. According to the Huffington Post, students at nearly 100 colleges walked out of classes to show solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

It is unclear why skipping class was a necessary sign of support. If students are forced to take on large amounts of debt to attend college, shouldn't they want to attend the classes they're paying so dearly for? Neglecting their educations is an unwise move unless, of course, they are confident their debts will be absolved, which is an unsure bet.

Students in New York also criticized the New York Police Department's clearing out of Zuccotti Park last week. As the movement continues to lose what focus and direction it had to begin with, clashes between occupying forces camped out in major cities and local police are getting worse.

Officials argue the camps are becoming public safety hazards, as legitimate protesters are gradually being replaced by the homeless and the criminal element, individuals who likely care little about economic reform, according to the Washington Post.

However, police action, which has been too harsh at times, will only add fuel to the fire of protest and may lead to the further radicalization of the movement.

If the Occupy movement wants to retain any claims to legitimacy, it needs to organize better and weed out pipe-dream ideas such as student-debt refusal.

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