[Posted on behalf of Lauren Ressler]
We, the millennial generation, have a reason to be angry. We are less likely to find employment than our parents and more likely to end up with staggering amounts of student loan debt. My graduating class, the class of 2011 left school with an average of $22,500 in student loan debt*. As a recent grad saddled with a total slightly greater than this, I feel the sum lurking nearby as I buy groceries, mail my rent check, or silently debate whether I am really sick enough to miss a day of work. Yes, anger is justified, but unless we do something constructive with these feelings, our financial burdens will not get lighter. We must learn to organize.
The 99% Spring trainings happening across the country this March and April will give us a chance to do just that. I attended a Training for Trainers event this weekend because I am tired of feeling like there is no way out of the vicious cycle of indebtedness I entered into when I decided to get a college degree. At the event I met a 25 year old man who had been hit by a car on his way to work three years ago and completed his shift that day because he didn’t have insurance to pay for a hospital visit. He now suffers from chronic pain that he isn’t sure will ever leave him.
I am hosting a training with friends in Bellingham, WA later this April because we young people have got to stick together and demand that the government, financial institutions, and potential employers stop making decisions that force the long term costs of short term gains onto our already encumbered shoulders. From energy decisions that destroy the environment to laws that prevent women from accessing essential preventative care, our “leaders” have clearly demonstrated that they do not have our best interests at heart.
I am asking all of you now to join me. If you have been on the fence about hosting a training on your campus or participating in one in your community, vote with your feet and take action. If you believe that learning how to affect real change through strategic action is an important skill for you and your friends to have, register to host a training this April on your campus or in your community. If you have questions hop on the 99% Spring National Student call this Thursday at 8pm ET.
We have the opportunity to reshape our country into a nation that invests in affordable quality education, that makes decisions about energy and the environment based on long term impacts, and in which young people are in positions to advocate for these things for themselves in both the public and private sectors. Take this opportunity, get trained, and take action to bring this vision into reality.
* Whitehouse, Mark. “Number of the Week: Class of 2011, Most Indebted Ever.” Wall Street Journal [New York] 07 05 2011, Web. 23 Mar. 2012.