Last August, student loans surpassed credit cards as the nation’s single largest source of debt, edging ever closer to $1 trillion. For all the moralizing about American consumer debt by both parties, no one dares call higher education a bad investment. The nearly axiomatic good of a university degree in American society has allowed a higher education bubble to expand to the point of bursting.
While we can’t know how and when our political lives will open onto something new, there is some reason to think it could begin on our campuses—with student strikes, occupations, and blockades—as occurred in Chile this summer and France in ‘68. Students are already suffering the effects of the latest speculative bubble in the form of ballooning loan debt and predatory, for-profit education. We’re also looking out on a wasteland of low-wage jobs, exploitative adjunct work, unemployment, and bankruptcy.
Our universities are preparing us for isolated and immiserated futures. But right now, we’re living and working on our campuses, together. And we have other plans.