Students protest George W. Bush’s humanitarian award in Denver. (Credit: COSPA)
1. Amid Rising Pressure, Sallie Mae Quits ALEC
After months of pressure from Jobs with Justice, the US Student Association and the Student Labor Action Project, Sallie Mae has quit the American Legislative Exchange Council—the fiftieth corporation to do so. At Sallie Mae’s shareholder meeting in May, more than 150 students and teachers turned out to voice concerns about Sallie Mae’s predatory lending. In partnership with the Responsible Endowments Coalition, Jobs with Justice worked to have several students and activists present a shareholder resolution inside the meeting calling for Sallie Mae to disclose its lobbying practices and end ties with ALEC. Following the shareholder meeting, students and recent graduates from across the country sat down with Sallie Mae’s CEO, Jack Remondi, and demanded Sallie Mae leave ALEC in June. After being denied, students continued to build pressure and collected nearly 15,000 petition signatures before ALEC’s fortieth-anniversary conference. Now with ALEC out of the equation, students will redouble efforts to pressure Sallie Mae to end its predatory practices and provide debt relief for struggling borrowers.
2. In the Wake of Moral Mondays, Students Launch Voter Defense
Less than six weeks after North Carolina passed the most severe voter suppression laws in the country, right-wing activists gathered in the town of Morrisville for a “Voter Integrity Boot Camp” to continue to battle the alleged specter of rampant voter fraud. Attendees learned all about this nonexistent problem from experts, many of whom were employed by Art Pope–funded think tanks and Heritage Action NC. While the provisions of the law that require all NC voters to have a state-issued ID—state-issued school IDs don’t count—doesn’t take effect until the end of 2014, what will be in effect starting in January is a new provision that allows anyone the ability to challenge another’s vote when they show up at their precinct. In response, students launched the NC Vote Defenders Project, a youth-led effort to train peers to be Precinct Defenders. While plugging into existing efforts, such as the Election Protection hotline, activists will monitor key precincts, give out information about voting rights at the polls and help those who run into trouble advocate for themselves, seek remedy and thoroughly document any incidents.