On the Demands of the Million Student March and the Necessity to Politicize the Student Movement

Today’s youth are facing a crisis. The necessity of receiving a college degree to obtain employment has forced many young people to take on massive loans to cover the cost of schooling. 71% of students receiving their bachelor’s degree will graduate with student debt, with the average accumulated debt hovering around $35,000. Women, oppressed nationalities, and LGBTQ people are doubly burdened due to pay discrimination based on gender, race, and sexual orientation, thus making it more difficult to secure an income on par with white cis-male students with which to pay back loans. With this burden attached to the majority of college students, the looming shadow of debt can be nothing else than a prolonged financial bondage thrust on an entire generation. This goes hand in hand with the increasing corporatization of higher education here in the United States, where students are treated as cash-cows ripe for monetary exploitation rather than young minds eager to expand intellectually and practically. This systematic monetization amounts to nothing less than a privatization of education and removes its accessibility to working-class people.

It’s clear that the capitalist system, with its continued assault on working people through neoliberal economic reforms and the prolonged economic downturn, cannot accommodate the educational needs of the majority of people. While the capitalist system dominates the people economically, it also constantly reproduces the conditions for the continuation of its oppressive and exploitative social relations through its ideological apparatus, the education system. The colleges, as they are currently, are centers for the indoctrination of the youth in a reactionary ruling ideology that is thoroughly racist, sexist, anti-LGBT, and classist. Recently, a movement of students has emerged across the country dedicated to fighting back against the dire economic situation faced by students shackled by debt. The Million Student March represents the day of action for this movement. The demands of the movement strike at the heart of the debt crisis by calling for a $15/hr. minimum wage for all campus workers, the cancelation of all student debt, and tuition-free public college.

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Progressive Youth Organization seeks to unite with this movement on the grounds that it represents a mobilization of students, youth, and adjuncts capable of challenging the trend of university education being the exclusive purview of the elite. The cancelation of all student debt will alleviate the financial burden placed on the shoulders of current, past, and future students, thus freeing millions of young people from decades of unending debt payments. Couple this with providing free public college and a $15/hr. minimum wage, and the privatization of higher education, and its insufficient low wage employment, will take a serious blow. However, Progressive Youth Organization, while recognizing the necessity of these demands for opening up education to the people and eliminating the debt crisis, also understands the necessity for going beyond what is possible.

While the demands of the Million Student Movement represent a step forward, they do not represent an all out assault on the entire structure of the reactionary education system, as well as lacking an explicitly working-class political perspective. Mere economic reforms are not enough. The legitimization of the oppression of the working-class, oppressed nationalities, LGBT people, and women that is reproduced in the universities must be removed root and branch. Progressive Youth Organization maintains that the only way to achieve victory is by opening up the universities to the working-class and oppressed peoples through the expansion of labor certificate programs, creation of remedial programs, expanding the teaching of the history and culture of oppressed nationalities, and expanding women’s studies programs. Only in this way can the student movement continue to fight and politicize itself in a revolutionary way by creating an ideological counterbalance to the dominant racist, patriarchal, sexist, and capitalist university system.

UNITE AND POLITICIZE! OPEN THE UNIVERSITIES AND REMOVE REACTIONARY IDEOLOGY ROOT AND BRANCH! IT IS RIGHT TO REBEL!

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