SACUA Talks Student Debt Cancellation and Presidential Elections

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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs discussed the election of a new president and vice president, as well as student debt forgiveness at its Monday afternoon meeting.

Allen Liu, professor of mechanical engineering and president of SACUA, said the election of the president and vice president of SACUA will take place on April 11. SACUA members will declare their intent to run for these positions on April 4.

Kentaro Toyama, professor of information and member of the Office of Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX, discussed the Faculty Senate Resolution on Cancellation of Student Debt. This resolution is led by a non-profit organization called Fellows for a New Deal for Higher Educationa group of teachers and scholars calling for higher education as a public good.

“This group is calling on the nation’s college senates, especially public universities, to issue a resolution calling on the federal government to cancel the debt,” Toyama said.

Student debt in the United States is approximately 1.7 trillion dollars, and 92% is due to the Ministry of Education. In December 2021, President Joe Biden delayed the student loan repayment schedule until May 1, 2022, the second time debt has been delayed since the pandemic.

The text of the resolution states that canceling student debt has many positive outcomes related to student welfare.

“Student debt exacerbates class, racial and gender inequalities,” the resolution reads. “This reduces students’ access to education and prevents them from accepting the jobs of their choice in the fields in which they have been trained. This weighs on our faculty and staff, who also carry student debt in their offices and classrooms. Most importantly, it is unnecessary, as there are now clear opportunities to cancel that debt and reform higher education funding to prevent students from taking on more debt.

Engineering Professor Michael Atzmon said SACUA needs to consider many factors before voting on this resolution.

“To me, that seems like a bit of a simplistic and vague solution,” Atzmon said. “What does it mean to cancel the debt? Does this also mean that the federal government will pay the private banks that lent the money? Is it fair to those who are more cautious and don’t take out loans? »

Caitlin Finlayson, Deputy Speaker of the Senate Assembly, said in her experience with her students, many students in debt face financial burdens for the rest of their lives and those of their children. However, she also added that this specific resolution does not provide a long-term solution to the real problem that is causing the debt in the first place.

“(The resolution) does not provide a long-term answer to predatory lending practices and escalating university costs, which is at the heart of this problem,” Finlayson said.

Education professor Donald Freeman said he knows colleagues who could speak out on the student debt issue ahead of the vote on the resolution. Liu agreed that SACUA should delay the vote until it has a better understanding of the issue.

The resolution has been tabled for a later date.

SACUA also met with the university’s acting president, Mary Sue Coleman, during the executive session, which was not open to the media. The Faculty Board also heard from Bill Schultz and Ella Kazerooni, co-chairs of the Rules, Practices and Policies Committee, during the executive session.

Daily staff reporter Caroline Wang can be reached at [email protected]

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