Million student march fizzles out at U of U
Free tuition supporters face an uphill battle
Jared Stirland | Assistant Lifestyle Editor
Photo credit: Valor McNeely
The Million Student March movement held an event Dec. 1st at the University of Utah where a small group of students gathered to pursue the organization’s goal of making bachelor’s degrees free at public universities nationwide.
“It is in support of our demand of the university and the Board of Regents that they freeze tuition hikes,” said Samuel Grenny, one of the event organizers.
On its website, the Million Student March says, “The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education.” This site also lists three demands, “Free college tuition, cancelation of all student debt, and a 15$ minimum wage for all college campus workers.”
“A 4–year degree is the equivalent of a high school degree twenty years ago,” said Mary Anderson, a University of Utah student who attended the event, “And public high school degrees are and were free twenty years ago, so a bachelors degree should be free for our generation.”
There were fewer than twenty people in attendance at the University of Utah, and the trending hashtag #millionstudentmarch seems to be fizzling out.
Last month, a video of a Million Student March member being interviewed by a news anchor went viral when the member could not answer questions about how the tuition would be paid for.
Despite the nationwide support of free tuition, the movement’s claim that “The United States is the richest country in the world” is ambiguous, and perhaps unfounded.
According to The World Bank, Sweden, Singapore, Qatar, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and Australia had a higher per capita GDP than the United States.
However, supporters of the movement point out that Norway and Sweden have found ways to keep tuition free for their students through tax revenue.
“I don’t know if free tuition is realistic, but I do know that something has to be done about student loan interest and rising tuition costs,” said Max Christensen, a marketing student at UVU.
Earlier this year, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that student loans account for 10 percent of all consumer debt totaling 1.9 trillion dollars.
“The student debt in our country is an enormous problem. Education is a means for people to improve their lives, and it should be a right without the fear of going into major debt,” said Reed Harris, a member of UVU Millennials for Bernie Sanders. “This is a huge issue that is being down–played in both republican and democrat debates, but it shouldn’t be. Current college students are the future of this country.”
Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, is a 2016 presidential candidate who has repeatedly voiced his ideology that public college tuition should be free.