FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Ashley Bohrer, Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education (CACHE)
Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education (CACHE) Organizes Rally, March, and Speak-out against Crushing Student Debt on National Student Day of Action at Chase Bank on March 1st
Chicago, Illinois — Chicago university students will stand in solidarity with students across the nation and the world when we walk out of our classrooms and down to Chase Tower on Thursday, March 1st, 2012. This walk-out and subsequent demonstration are the next step in our continued escalation of students’ struggle for control of their own futures. For too long, the 1%–or to be precise, .00064%–has brought the fight to us through FAFSA forms and credit card swindles. This time, we bring the fight to them. On March 1st, students across Chicago will make it clear to J.P. Morgan Chase that students will no longer permit the consequences of its loan profiteering pass by the public unnoticed. We will rally and march on Chase Tower, where we will conduct actions in protest of Chase’s increasing control over our future. And this will not be our last act of resistance. The recent creation of the Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education (CACHE) gives voice to a new spirit of unrest and anger among students in Chicago and across the country. We are devoted to the education and empowerment of students world-wide in an age when the ruthless captains of the free market have transformed higher ed into yet another site of profit accumulation.
There is a myth in this country that “everyone goes to college.” While the ideal of a university education and the promise of upward mobility it brings has long functioned as an ideology for a society riven by profound inequality, in the current economic climate that myth is becoming ever more threadbare, as fewer and fewer students can afford a college degree. Working multiple part-time jobs, taking on outrageously inflated student loans, amassing credit card debt — such is the life of a ‘student’ today. Were it not for the even more dismal prospect of a life without the increasingly meaningless credentials our remorselessly impersonal society demands, a life without higher education would seem the more attractive alternative. As for finding a job upon graduating, much less one that pays a living wage, has decent benefits, and (how dare we!) reflects one’s talents and passions — well, good luck!
The traditional promise of higher education– that it provides opportunities for a better life — has been foreclosed along with the homes of many Americans. Once the cornerstone of American social mobility, colleges and universities have been transformed into revolving doors for students who enter with high hopes only to exit with massive debt, few job prospects, and little of substance in exchange for all their troubles, enriching student lenders and a ballooning administrator class along the way.
Many economists worry that the student debt bubble may soon burst, landing the US economy in a triple-dip recession. Furthermore, the average student debt of $25,250 — a number that is not only growing steadily with each new semester, but is already significantly higher for minority students — renders students unable to take lower paying, fulfilling positions such as public service employment or elementary school teaching. Higher education’s former mission of developing balanced, enlightened individuals who can serve their communities reveals itself as no more than a lie.
The corporatization of higher education has produced a climate of vicious competition and insecurity on and between campuses. Meanwhile, the burden on families grows with each new term, while the wages of most American families remain stagnant. Administrations have proved increasingly willing to dispense with the more traditional elements of higher education in favor of extravagant construction projects designed for the purpose not of servicing the community but of drawing families (i.e. ‘revenue generators’) to the institution with the most lavish facilities.
While universities relentlessly slash programs that inculcate critical reflection in search of ever more “revenue” (that is, profits), university officials wonder at the loss of critical thinking skills among university students. If our universities, which are resembling more and more exclusive resorts for the progeny of the well-off, are not to become relics of the past, and if this country is not to fall even deeper into recession, the crisis in education must be addressed. When higher education becomes the preserve of the privileged, it becomes a mockery of what it claims to deliver. Over the last few decades, the minority in power has waged a war on higher education, realizing that by restricting access to higher education, the general public will be stripped of the tools and the opportunities to criticize and resist the destructive policies forged by the privileged. Their attack on higher education has not only worked to disable dissent, but has disproportionately disadvantaged (socioeconomic, racial, and queer) minority students.
This is the situation in which CACHE intervenes. We have decided to throw a few wrenches into a machine that demolishes places of learning only to replace them with corporate-friendly resorts. Given that Chase Bank is one of the most vital levers of that machine, especially with respect to their role in student lending; and given that their commercial headquarters is located here in Chicago, CACHE has decided to strike at Chase.
Chase Bank’s infiltration of universities and colleges earns them profits at the expense of students and their families, who must bear the increasing cost of higher education. If you have ever wondered why bank logos and ATMs are plastered all over your campus, consider that banks pay colleges and universities when students obtain and use their credit cards. It should come as no surprise that Chase Bank is the largest provider of Visa cards.
Let us have no illusions: student debt is destroying the ideal of higher education as a place of enlightened debate and diversity of encounters. The university is no longer a place to collectively reflect on our history, or our present. That is why we must act now. Chicago students’ strike on Chase begins on March 1st with actions on individual Chicago university campuses, including a city-wide walk-out, and students from all schools will convene at Grant Park (Michigan and Congress) at 1:00pm for a rally before marching to Chase Headquarters.
For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Ashley Bohrer at (818) 923 – 8348 or Ben Schacht at 585-748-088. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CACHE stands in solidarity with the parents and students currently occupying the Brian Piccolo Specialty School at 1040 North Keeler Avenue in Chicago, IL. CACHE recognizes that free, publicly financed education provides the foundation for a democratic society. Education is a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.
CACHE endorses Piccolo parents and students’ reasonable demands for a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, a meeting with at least 5 members of the Chicago School Board present, and the removal of Piccolo and Cassals schools from the turnaround list. Furthermore, CACHE opposes all school turnarounds and closures in the city of Chicago.
Education is a right!
The next CACHE meeting will be this Sunday February 19th, 6pm, at the DePaul Philosophy building (2352 N. Clifton, Clifton and Fullerton).
The Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education has framed our troubles well: “Corporate warriors and their policy-makers in state and federal government are steadily undermining higher education, turning what was once a public good into yet another means of private gain.” Administrations are looking to corporate consultants to help them navigate austerity, the majority of classrooms are staffed by the academic equivalent of day labor, and tuition skyrockets alongside student debt. This is a crisis that cannot continue. This panel will begin with a discussion of the current state of affairs in higher education and steer into a tactical planning session that will emphasize solidarity between all people affected by our education system and empower us all to make positive changes in our own schools.
Diana Vallera, President of P-fac, CCC
John Casey, PhD, adjunct, UIC
Sarah Wild, former USCC member
Ben Schacht, CACHE, &
David Skattebo, undergraduate
FRIDAY, FEB. 3
@ 500 W. Cermak