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CFA co-sponsors conference on students’ ‘Debt Sentence’, April 20-21

A California-wide conference at San Jose State this Thursday and Friday will analyze and seek ways to tackle burgeoning student debt in the U.S. that is now approaching $1.3 trillion.

Preston Rudy, president of the San Jose CFA Chapter which is a co-sponsor, says, “We have to acknowledge how vast this problem is. And we need to find ways to organize for access to higher education that does not rely on individualized debt to put degrees into students’ hands.”

Speakers are coming to San Jose from as far as City University of New York, and The Debt Collective, which arose from Occupy Wall Street and is famed for slogans like “You Are Not A Loan,” will provide teach-In style performance-presentations.

CFA will offer a panel of faculty to suss out how we got to this point of crushing debt, and what it means for academic faculty, in particular. Junior faculty, Rudy points out, experience the “indebted life” at a high rate that interferes with their lives and careers.

A series of talks and workshops at San Jose since March opened dialogue leading to the culminating day on Friday when the conference takes up pathways to change. In the big war over education, will it be treated as a public good? Or will it be privatized to be a profit center for some?

“The pressure to put the cost onto students is an act of privatization of education,” Rudy says, previewing the presentation he will give on the CFA panel. “We have been watching the CSU gradually privatize over many years, and the CSU administration has absorbed the ideology of privatization. That is, when you need money, you do not think to go to the legislators in a big way. You look at the properties and activities of the university and develop ways to commodify that, to sell it as a private good and generate revenue streams.”

“Administrators,” Rudy said “are not making the case for publicly funded higher education with the voters and making a ‘fulsom case’ for the investment Californian’s have made over the last 100 years in these institutions and extending them into the future. These are the birthright of Californians.”

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