Million Student March lacks actionable plan

By Campus Editor

The Million Student March, a series of day-long demonstrations and educational initiatives—led by college students demanding tuition-free public college, student debt forgiveness and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers—sparked rallies at more than 100 colleges nationwide on Nov. 12.  

In a same-day interview on Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast,” the national student organizer Keely Mullen, a senior at Northeastern University, was berated by host Neil Cavuto, who criticized her requests for free college and debt forgiveness. He asked Mullen one thought-provoking question: “And how is that going to be paid?” 

After a painfully long pause, Mullen replied “Great question.” She then proposed that the country’s richest pay 90 percent in taxes to fund the initiative, which Cavuto scoffed at, explaining that even taxing the country’s 1 percent at 100 percent of their income would not cover the costs of eliminating student debt.

The Million Student March’s failure to explain how its initiatives will be funded casts doubt about the practicality of its free tuition  and loan forgiveness demands. 

College affordability has become a hot topic now more than ever as the 2016 presidential hopefuls are addressing it  in their campaign rhetoric. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have outlined their own ideas—Bush has gone back and forth on the idea of free community college, and Clinton has discussed a cheaper but not free in-state tuition. However, Bernie Sanders—whose  student organizations on college campuses make up a large number of the organizations that stand in support of the March—has taken the most extreme approach.

Sanders’ campaign website outlines six steps he will take if elected  to make college more accessible, including making tuition free at all public colleges and universities, cutting loan interest rates by nearly 2 percent and imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators. 

While I respect the students’ desires to fix a broken system that often forces students to live with crushing debt even before reaching graduation, and I agree action needs to be taken, the group’s inability to articulate how such drastic initiatives can be financed makes its movement useless and further discredits its calls to action.

The millennial generation already has trouble getting recognition as a legitimate voice of the democratic system, and the Million Student March’s failure to provide answers to reasonable questions asked by Cavuto and others does not help. It only makes millennials seem hungry for handouts.

Students participating in this movement need to understand the drastic change they are demanding and whether it will help or hurt the country’s already-fragile economy. The idea of free college tuition and a debt-free future is appealing, but passion cannot outweigh feasibility when it comes to national issues of this magnitude.