ASSOU Vice President Amanda Stucke and ASSOU President Hassan Harris, along with 9 SOU students, attended the annual USSA Grassroots Legislative Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. Every year, the students of the organization put on a rally, and this year, it was in front of the Sallie Mae building. We were rallying there peacefully with 304 students total from 14 different states. A group of students volunteered to be a part of the “civil disobedience group” and blocked the street and the door to the building. Shaun and Hannah volunteered to be in this group. Eventually they were arrested with 33 other students and the President of the United States Student Association (USSA) for not moving from the doorway to the Sallie Mae building. They were taken to a DC jail, but were released by the evening.
Ultimately, all we wanted was a meeting with a representative from Sallie Mae to discuss how their business model is negatively affecting students. This was also in part a response to student loan debt hitting 1 trillion dollars. USSA had been contacting them for months on our behalf to get a meeting (without response).
After that, we left and went to the Capitol and met with our Oregon legislators for items like not cutting SEOG, TRIO, and Pell programs, two different student loan repayment and forgiveness bills, and a bill that would allow students to write off student loan debt if they declare bankruptcy. We had a very successful day and really made an impact on legislators on major items that would go a long way in helping students at SOU.
We are very proud of Hannah and Shaun. While we obviously try to advocate for students in a manner that does not disturb the peace, we drew a lot of attention to Sallie Mae’s greed and lack of consideration for the well being of students. Hannah and Shaun played an important role in advocating for students yesterday.
Here are a couple of links to a local news story and blog written by a bystander (be sure to check out the video clip in the first one):