CUNY students host a “State of the Students” address at New York City Hall. (NYStudentsRising.org)
1. A New Arizona, Arpaio or Not
I first got into politics registering voters to get rid of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. My brother-in-law had just been deported, and my dad had been in Arpaio’s Tent City, so I connected. I learned that we can all do something to change things that aren’t right. That’s why, as a high school senior, I’m active with UNITE HERE. We’re making sure people know that Phoenix City Council elections are coming up, and why they are important. I was raised by a single mom. She always had to do little jobs here and there—minimum wage jobs. She was a driver for a hospital, a store cashier, and she worked on an assembly line. She always made sure we were happy, but sometimes there wasn’t enough food to last. My mom has a better job now, but a lot of people are still struggling. I want to elect someone who will do something good for our community, like raising the minimum wage. If the jobs are better, the neighborhood can be better. It’s different from talking to people about Arpaio, but it’s also the same. I am going out and listening to people’s stories and telling my story.
2. Race, Debt, Power
This spring, CUNY students from New York Students Rising will be taking part in Jobs with Justice’s Sallie Mae campaign, attacking the lender as a profiteer of student debt, which is now a larger bubble than credit card debt in the United States. While very few organizations are framing student loans as a form of racial injustice, the way that subprime mortgage lending was widely described in 2008, CUNY students will be organizing around allegations, denied by Sallie Mae, that the lender discriminates against students of color by taking colleges’ default rates into account when setting interest rates. (Institutions that serve large numbers of students of color typically have higher default rates than other schools.) NYSR will be targeting the CUNY Board of Trustees through direct action in order to break its relationship with Sallie Mae. [This paragraph was revised on February 5.]
3. In the Hometown of Big Coal