* DEFAULT: THE STUDENT LOAN DOCUMENTARY
Default: The Student Loan Documentary is a 27 min. documentary chronicling the stories of borrowers from different backgrounds affected by the private student lending industry and their struggles to change the system.
The documentary is now available for advanced screenings.
If you would like to show Default: the Student Loan Documentary in your community, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
June 7-9 2011 in Chicago @ NCTC National Conference: Mapping the Future, Center For Economic Progress @ http://tax-coalition.org/
* THE HUMAN FACE OF STUDENT DEBT: A CONVERSATION WITH THE FILMMAKERS OF ‘DEFAULT’
By Emily Wilson, AlterNet
If you want to experience the real impact of student loan debt on human lives, look no further than Default: The Student Loan Documentary. Though this powerful 27-minute documentary includes interviews with experts like Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt, and Alan Collinge, the founder of StudentLoanJustice.org, the bulk of this story is told by everyday borrowers, some of them turned activists in an effort to change the dysfunctional student lending system that now holds them captive.
And captive they are. Unlike other types of debt (like gambling debts, for instance), student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, leaving many former students chained for life to loans they have little hope of paying off. Default offers a rare inside look at these emotional stories, detailing how loans can balloon into multiples of what students originally borrow to go to college and the troubling impact of that debt over time. One man in the film chokes up as he shares his decision not to ask his girlfriend to marry him because he doesn’t want her to have to share the burden of his debt. Another interviewee bursts into tears when she explains why she works with the United States Students Association: so that others won’t have to suffer as she did after leaving school with health problems, tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
The filmmakers of Default, Aurora Meneghello and Serge Bakalian knew it was important to put a human face on America’s student loan debt crisis – which, at more than a trillion dollars, has now surpassed credit card debt as the nation’s largest debt burden. But when the two started working on the movie in 2007, it was difficult for them to find much information about the issue, much less borrowers who would talk about their debt. Now, with the average borrower owing more than $20,000 and the number of unique borrowers on the rise, the hunger to discuss the issue has grown — and even Congress is paying attention. in April, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 was introduced in the House; the bill would forgive outstanding student loan debt after 10 years of on-time, income-contingent payments, and would cap student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent.
But that bill is far from being law, and recently, lawmakers in the Senate defeated legislation that would have extended low-interest rates for federal student loans. […]
* QUEBEC’S FIGHT IS OUR FIGHT
By Chris Hedges, Truthout
The streets of Montreal are clogged nightly with as many as 100,000 protesters banging pots and pans and demanding that the old systems of power be replaced. The mass student strike in Quebec, the longest and largest student protest in Canadian history, began over the announcement of tuition hikes and has metamorphosed into what must swiftly build in the United States—a broad popular uprising. The debt obligation of Canadian university students, even with Quebec’s proposed 82 percent tuition hike over several years, is dwarfed by the huge university fees and the $1 trillion of debt faced by U.S. college students. The Canadian students have gathered widespread support because they linked their tuition protests to Quebec’s call for higher fees for health care, the firing of public sector employees, the closure of factories, the corporate exploitation of natural resources, new restrictions on union organizing, and an announced increase in the retirement age. Crowds in Montreal, now counting 110 days of protests, chant “On ne lâche pas”—”We’re not backing down.”
The Quebec government, which like the United States’ security and surveillance state is deaf to the pleas for justice and fearful of widespread unrest, has reacted by trying to stamp out the rebellion. It has arrested hundreds of protesters. The government passed Law 78, which makes demonstrations inside or near a college or university campus illegal and outlaws spontaneous demonstrations in the province. It forces those who protest to seek permission from the police and imposes fines of up to $125,000 for organizations that defy the new regulations. This, as with the international Occupy movement, has become a test of wills between a disaffected citizenry and the corporate state. The fight in Quebec is our fight. Their enemy is our enemy. And their victory is our victory. […]
* MAPLE SPRING: NEALY 1,000 ARRESTED AS MASS QUEBEC STUDENT STRIKE PASSES 100th DAY
By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales, Democracy Now!
More than 400,000 filled the streets of Montreal this week as a protest over a 75 percent increase in tuition has grown into a full-blown political crisis. After three months of sustained protests and class boycotts that have come to be known around the world as the “Maple Spring,” the dispute exploded when the Quebec government passed an emergency law known as Bill 78, which suspends the current academic term, requires demonstrators to inform police of any protest route involving 50 or more people, and threatens student associations with fines of up to $125,000 if they disobey. The strike has received growing international attention as the standoff grows, striking a chord with young people across the globe amid growing discontent over austerity measures, bleak economies and crushing student debt. We’re joined by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for CLASSE, the main coalition of student unions involved in the student strikes in Quebec; and Anna Kruzynski, assistant professor at the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University in Montreal. She has been involved in the student strike as a member of the group, “Professors Against the Hike.”