In December of 2011, Dr. Stein met with students at Santa Monica College, including Harrison Wills, the president of their student association and a Green Party member. Stein issued the following statement this morning:
Specifically the students were voicing their objections to the proposed quadrupling of fees for many summer courses through a so-called "Two-Tiered Tuition" system. This comes in the aftermath of decades of tuition increases across the country which have made a college degree as much as ten times as expensive for students compared to just a generation ago. Most college students are going into deep debt to pay these high costs already, with roughly 30 million students and recent graduates struggling to repay college debt amidst desperately high unemployment rates for recent college graduates.
For all these reasons, higher education needs to be accessible to all. That's why I have made student loan debt forgiveness a key priority of my campaign. If we found a way to bail out the bankers who crashed the economy with 16 trillion in giveaways and free loans, we can forgive the much smaller 1 trillion dollar debt of the students, who are suffering the economic consequences of that waste, fraud and abuse.
I am committed also to making public higher education free and open to all students -- like our primary and secondary schools -- since a college education is as critical for economic security in the 21st century as a high school degree was in the 20th. This is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing, as shown by the GI bill which returned $7 in increased revenues for every $1 invested by the federal government.
I met many of the amazing students at Santa Monica College in my visit to the campus this past December. They are truly leaders in the fight for generational justice in their courageous stand against high unemployment, rising higher education costs, exploitative college loans, and escalating climate catastrophe that all fall most harshly on the backs of their generation. In fighting for justice for their generation, they are standing up for a healthy economy, democracy and ecology for us all."