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5 Ways Student Debt Resistance Is Taking Off

As student debt skyrockets, the movement to resist it is spreading.

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What gets shared reflects a vast and uneven terrain of struggles. As such, debt resistance has the standard tensions of a big tent. On the one hand, the pervasiveness of debt is grounds to unite people from all ideologies and all segments of the population. But, if handled bluntly, debt can bury people's identities, limiting the possibilities of resistance.

Not only is student debt a class issue, it’s a race issue: black and Latino graduates owe more, and discrimination in loan servicing runs rampant. It’s also a women’s issue: student loans are more likely to cut into women’s salaries than men’s. And, as New York University's Queer Union suggested at an October 3 “Coming Out of the (Debt) Closet” speakout, it’s a queer issue, too.

As Doug Keeler wrote of NYU, which boasts a reputation as a queer-friendly campus and a chart-topping price tag, “[This] safe space should not cost me…potentially lifelong debt.” Here, sexuality cuts across class: “LGBT youth are homeless at disproportionately higher rates, and often face uniquely homophobic/ transphobic encounters with shelters and police…. For those of us that do make it here, or who come out while in college, our own unsupportive households may continue to sharpen the difficulty of dealing with the high price of an NYU education.”

Like race, sex and sexuality, debt is something you're not supposed to talk about. To strike it down, resistors will have to break more than one form of silence.

James Cersonsky is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. Follow him on Twitter: @cersonsky.