Tuesday, May 1, 2012


By Zac Smith
NORMAN — “If I didn't have a degree, my life currently would be pretty bleak,” says Lindsey Anderson, 24, who graduated from Westwood College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in game and art design. “It's difficult enough nowadays for even a college graduate to get a decent job, let alone someone without one.”In order to attend college, Lindsey had to take out approximately $40,000 in student loans, which she is still paying off. Lindsey’s case is not unique-- according to the Department of Education, 67% of graduating university students have student debt. Students who have taken out loans are now graduating with an average debt  of more than $25,250.
For decades, Americans have viewed college as a doorway to success and economic freedom. However, the system of academic loans is turning higher education into just another instrument of economic domination over America’s working people.
Graduates who default on their loans risk facing wage garnishment, persistent harassment by collection agencies and litigation by creditors. In order to avoid these things, many graduates are entirely at the mercy of their employers. To speak up about unsafe work conditions or to criticize discriminatory management practices means to risk unemployment, and even a brief period of unemployment can mean falling behind on loan payments. With graduate unemployment at an all-time high of 9.1%, according to the Project on Student Debt, the capitalists’ grip on college-educated workers has rarely been stronger, causing many to view higher education as a sort of  step toward contemporary indentured servitude.
By necessitating that students put themselves into years’ worth of debt, our capitalist system transforms education, naturally a force for liberation and empowerment, into another mechanism of control and exploitation. The pursuit of knowledge and technical expertise becomes a crass system for creating profit and coercing workers into obedience. In recent weeks, President Obama has done a great deal in recent weeks to draw attention to the hardships and challenges facing the average US College graduate, many are feeling that such gestures are too little too late. Others see it as more hollow promises from the same President that promised to close Guantanamo Bay and walk the picket with union workers who’s collective bargaining rights were threatened. What’s more, even if Obama were to follow the lead of many European states, making higher education affordable for everyone or even free, we are still facing the immediate problems of unemployment and underemployment.

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