During the student strike in Montreal, nighttime became a time for spontaneous displays of anger against the Charest government. Citizens of Montreal would flood the streets banging their pots and pans in a show of protest against, among other issues, the rising tuition fees for Quebec students. These protests became known as Casseroles. They eventually effected a reversal of the intended tuition hike and a promise from the Quebec government to instill a multi-year tuition freeze, while also repealing Bill 78, which was a law designed to curb public protest.
In the last several decades, access to affordable, quality, higher education has been greatly reduced, undermining the promise of opportunity in the pursuit of happiness and “the American Dream.” The US Department of Education has reported an average annual tuition increase of 5-6% nationally for the last two decades due to across the board reductions in local, state, and federal education funding. American University has been following the national model of dramatic tuition increases while offering little help to students struggling under the burden of student debt. Last year, American University raised tuition by another 5% and have committed to a 30% tuition hike over the next 5 years. Ironically, AU referred to the hikes as a concession to students amid a rough economy and competitive higher education environment, however, budget records show last year the school raked in a budget surplus of $44 million dollars. In addition to the unwarranted tuition hikes proposed, students are already finding it tougher to finance their education. A recent study found American University average student debt from private loans far exceeds the national average. AU students say that navigating obstacles in the financial aid office to obtain federal subsidized student loans is becoming close to impossible, leaving many students (even those that qualify) without any alternative to taking out private loans. The increasing financial burden of higher education is forcing some students to weigh dropping out of college before attaining their degrees, or face acquiring mountains of debt they will be paying off for the rest of their lives. Both of these outcomes are unacceptable.
Following in the footsteps of the Quebec student movement this summer, the Coalition of American University Students (CAUS) is holding a nighttime casseroles march of their own to demand a tuition freeze at American University.
It’s high-time we change the conversation on education in our schools and communities as well.
When: Wednesday November 7th 10:45 PM
Where: American University Amphitheater
What to Bring: pots, pans, and solidarity
Facebook event page:
The march is being organized by CAUS (Coalition of American University Students), a consensus-based student union organized to give voice to students in pursuit of a more affordable, better quality, education and a better society on campus.
For more on tuition freeze efforts at American University, see the link below for a full story on dcmiccheck (occupydc’s independent newspaper) :