Student debt protesters plan last (noisy) march on Capitol Hill

Marchers from earlier this summer (Image: Alex Garland via SDNB)

The weekly banging of pots and pans will come to an end this Wednesday as the Student Debt Noise Brigade has announced its final march on Capitol Hill.

In a Sunday update to the effort’s Facebook page, organizers said dwindling participation means this Wednesday’s march will likely be its last:

It is with great sadness that the organizers of the weekly Capitol Hill #SDNB march would like to inform you that this coming Wednesday will (in all likelihood) be our last march.

Despite a continuing increase in the levels of community support we’ve received along the route, the number of people participating has also been steadily dwindling over the past few weeks. While this is undoubtedly a shame, the organizers no longer feel the attendance is sufficient to support a weekly march.

Although the Capitol Hill march is drawing to close, we’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that the weekly march of our sister chapter in the U-District has started. Please see the link to this event for more details on how you can attend the Wednesday march in that area:

Regardless, we hope you’ll continue to work and find other ways to raise awareness around this issue so critical all our lives and our future.

We want to sincerely thank those of you that have come out to march with us, whether it be be once, or once a week. Make some noise.

See you next Wednesday,

The marches began early this summer as #miccheckwallst participants set out to make a regular protest against what they say are crippling levels of student debt forced on students. The weekly marches have been peaceful if not noisy but a June run-in with police on Broadway was one of the last incidents where East Precinct responded in force to marching protesters. That action came just days before the E Madison pepper spray incident. In the weeks since, police have responded to the group and similar activities with softer tactics. Meanwhile, the group organizing the debt march secured a permit for the weekly march also paving the way for a more peaceful, regular event.

The weekly protest has started each week at Seattle Central before winding its way through the Hill and back to Cal Anderson Park.

Here’s Wednesday’s final march schedule:


• 6pm – Rally and SpeaK-Out. Come share your story, say a few words about student debt, or just show your support.

• 7pm – March.

• ~8pm – Picnic in Cal Anderson park. Please join us by the fountain for a picnic.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

33 thoughts on “Student debt protesters plan last (noisy) march on Capitol Hill

  1. I suppose I’ll get yelled at when I point out that student debt is

    a> voluntary (though possibly a good idea)
    b> an obligation that you have agreed to repay

    I understand that some graduates are having trouble getting a job, and I do recognize that it might be necessary to restructure payments, but bills must be paid. No shirking, it just makes it harder for the next person in line to get their loan.

  2. Cool to see that your conviction to this protest coincided with the nice weather. Sad to be beating those pots and pans in futility in the rain.

  3. Of course expecting you to repay $150k of student loans right out of school makes total sense. You signed the paper! Not to mention student loan repayment is the only debt not discharged in bankruptcy (for some very good reasons I’m sure!) so you’ll have literally no option but to keep on paying.

    It’s also not like student loans are now a 1 Trillion dollar industry, and is more likely than not the next bubble to burst; you 18 year olds clearly should have the foresight to understand that you shouldn’t have made such a large investment in your future. It’s not like everyone promised that all you need to do is go to college, get a great job, and quickly pay off your meager house worth of a loan. You must have made that all up in your head. Your stupid, lazy, socialist head.

    No one MADE you go to college. I’m sure there are lots of great jobs you can get without needing a college degree, you just totally need to work harder!

    Like me.

  4. The bigger issue is why it costs over $40 grand for a student to attend a decent college or university in this country. We are falling behind in Math, Reading, Science when compared to every single western or developing country and the average person has to take on unreasonable debt to get a proper higher education. Where’s the incentive for someone to attend school not to be well paid down the line but to improve the community or teach our kids? Grrr.

  5. Rising costs of education have, in a way, forced debt onto students. Unless you come from a well-to-do family or qualify for scholarships (which are limited, and many viable candidates do not) you pretty much have no other choice but to take out student loans.

    That said, it is a choice, and an agreement the loanee took on when applying.

  6. Glad to hear this is coming to an end! I agree that education is expensive and debt is a big problem but why does that mean that the rest of us have to be subjected to such a racuous & obnoxious amount of noise? I live right along the route and the only thing that march made me angry about was the disruption in my evening after I had worked all day. I hope you guys find an alternative means of expressing yourself before next summer as I really do not think you were getting much of a point across with this method.

  7. It’s either take the enormous debt or not go to school. So yes, they’re not “forced,” but that’s not a choice students should have to make.

  8. There is a good reason student loans aren’t dischargable via bankruptcy: no one would offer them if they were. You could spend $100k getting a law degree and then declare bankruptcy the next day. The easy availability of student loans has likely driven up the cost of education as schools can charge what they want and know they can get it because of student loans. There are plenty of affordable college options out there: community colleges. But those aren’t as glamorous as going to Reed for $55k a yr are they? The cost of college is going up because students are looking for the college experience rather than an education and they’re willing to take out $100k in loans to do that.

    Geez I wonder who is responsible for the “everyone needs a 4 yr education” fairy tale that was fed to our generation. If you want to blame loan companies I am right there with you, but also blame the higher ed lobby that consists of teachers unions and student groups. And I say all of this as a person with a ton of student loan debt. I took them out and I’m paying them. They shouldn’t be cancelled. How about advocating for a leg up instead of complete cancellation? Being able to deduct the interest beyond $2500 a yr would be a start.

  9. Well, a college education doesn’t need to happen in 4 years, either. Do it in 8 years and work while you’re going to school. 25 hour work weeks, 7 credits a semester. Yes, it delays a career, and it puts graduate school that much further out, but lets face facts: We’re living longer. You probably won’t be retiring at age 65 anyway.

    Personally, I’d pay higher taxes if ALL of the increase were geared towards improving our education system. Tuition Aid, teacher training, Pell Grants (do those still exist?) expanding enrollment for WA residents in OUR state schools, expanding enrollment in needed departments.

    I also think we need a very robust community college and Vocational Technical system. Many Vo-Tech students will probably end up earning more in their lives than those with 4 year degrees.

  10. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a choice for many students. When I was attending SCCC in 1998 tuition was +/- $600 per quarter. Adjusted for inflation that’d be $800 today, but tution is actually $1,350, a 225% increase. If you’re a lower-middle-income working adult you have no choice but to take out loans [Unless you’re lucky to a) make enough to cover tuition, b) have an employer cover most of it you need to take out loans]. There ARE federal and state aid programs to help students who make less than about $20K, but other than that you’re on your own.

  11. “CRIPPLING DEBT FORCED UPON STUDENTS…” OMG. When was crippling debt ever forced on anyone?? Spoiled, rotten, bratty, entitled loser children. Get a job, live at home, study at night/attend class and graduate on time with no debt.

  12. Good grief people… some of us needed student loans to get through college. I took out 30K in loans & guess what??!! I paid them all back. That’s called being an adult.

    You don’t want the debt, don’t take out the loan.

    I can only imagine this group buying a car and then protesting outside the dealership saying it is unfair they have to pay for the car.

  13. In your idealistic bubble, yes, but I think the bigger concern is that students have little option other than to take on such onerous debt in the first place.

  14. If you are taking out giant loans to go to SCCC as the majority of the Cap Hill marchers presumably are, you fail math. Seriously, if you can’t pay for college without going into crippling debt, move somewhere cheaper. Washington has many public schools. They may not be located in cities as fashionable as Seattle, but society doesn’t owe you a fashionable late teens & early 20’s. Take it from someone who recently managed to survive four years in Pullman, worked full time and emerged debt-free. If you’re a special social snowflake you’ll be all the more motivated to graduate quickly so you can move back.

    Those who want to change society will acquire the necessary skills as quickly as possible. Those who want to protest adulthood sneaking up on them from behind will crash pots and pans (until the weather gets rainy and the free food runs out).

  15. I agree completely! And I would add that some college graduates need to lower their income expectations a bit, at least temporarily, and get a job which will at least pay their bills, including student loans. I get the feeling that some think that lower-paying jobs are somehow beneath them, even as their bills pile up, and that they “deserve” a higher-paying job just because they went to college. It’s all part of the “entitlement generation.”

  16. I guess you’re exaggerating to make a point, but it is just not true that you need 40K a year to get a good college education. The UW is one of the best universities in the country and tuition there is about 12K a year, and of course community colleges are an option too.

  17. I’m really kind of shocked at the comments telling kids to just suck it up and not take out loans – many employers won’t even look at a person who doesn’t have a degree for an entry-level job, students today have to take out way bigger loans at higher interest rates to make college work AND jobs are far less available to young people than they were 15 years ago when I was in current college students’ shoes.

    Having said that, I’m thrilled the march is stopping. The organizers should use their energy to do something that makes an actual difference. Sorry Brigade, but running around the neighborhood making a lot of obnoxious noise is useless. It doesn’t effect any kind of change. Go talk to your legislators. Write letters. Engage your peers in meaningful political action. I know that’s not very sexy but it’s a lot more effective than these pointless marches.

  18. I have no college degree or high school diploma. You want to learn how to do something, go to the library and read, or at least view college courses as though you are hiring an expert in a particular field of study to teach you something you can’t get from reading a book.
    A large majority of people have learned the hard way that many accredited college degrees are meaningless (except to the HR department personnel). The person paying for the education is the one in power, not the school. The last two or three generations born here in the US have been taught the reverse. That includes the younger generation of current teachers. So of course useful idiots are marching around trying to get their self-inflicted debt forgiven.

  19. I think they were saying $40K for the 4 years. That would be $10K a year. Tack on books and other expenses and you’re easily at $15K/yr to go to school…do you have an extra $1,250 laying around every month? Not to mention that most, if not all, has to be paid up front.

  20. LMFAO @ “go to the library and read”

    I’d love to see the look on an HR person’s face when reading that on a resume. Well, no, I didn’t get an MBA from UW…but I spent several weekends in the library reading books about business. Get the fuck out of here.

  21. I agree that degrees can be overrated in practical terms, and would personally prefer to hire someone driven and savvy to get an education/experience without a degree over someone who just showed up to class and got the piece of paper without learning much. However, as someone who has to hire based on others’ criteria, I am actually not allowed to present candidates without a degree to my superiors, even for entry-level clerical work. That is what job seekers are facing and why they are going into debt.

  22. I agree with Amy’s first point…we all benefit from educating our own citizens. Financially penalizing or discouraging students from pursuing self betterment is perverse. Comparing an education to purchasing a car? Not even close.

    As for all the marches, they got us to talk about this subject, didn’t they? All the comments on this forum are proof the marches were productive.

  23. I thought of myself as a “victim” of student loans before, graduated into a recession with bad jobs with periods of no jobs and loan payments more than my rent. It made me sick to my stomach. One night I realized I have a higher than average IQ, a college degree and the privilege to accomplish anything, more than most ppl in this world. But life is hard, so I made it my priority to never be in debt like that again. I worked more sucky jobs into to a job I love, lived frugally, saved, learned to invest, hedged against the real estate bubble before it popped, and paid lump sum 40k to be debt free. During that time I gained a real education, and I still live like a college student, with ramen and lots of late night reading.

    An idea of a real protest against the higher education industry is for everyone to go on strike, just stop going for at least year and travel or read at the library instead. I don’t see any logical reason why tuition should be that expensive. The labor market is not starving for new graduates anyway, and the excess of higher education need to be flushed out. If you want to hurt them, think about where to kick that really hurts, not your innocent neighbors.

  24. What the hell does beating pots and pans have to do with fighting student debt? I already know about student debt, thank you very much. I even have some of my own. Now take your good intentions and do something PRODUCTIVE with all that energy!

    There are more modern ways to get a message accross and to fight for change. I’ll sign your petition, watch your YouTube videos and read your blog posts but please grow up and remember it’s not the 60’s anymore!!

  25. That steep uphill climb from Seattle Center to The Hill was a perfect symbol, but knocked out lots of participants. I “participated” a couple of times on Harvard and Broadway. But resistance and solidarity on the ground, on our jobs, in our living is where change will happen not just in making temporary noises.

  26. You are right, HR wouldn’t talk to you. Bill Gates dropped out of college. They wouldn’t hire him either. In short, knowing how to do a job is worth more than a degree.