SGA backs student debt cancellation movement


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A Spring 2020 Student Government Association meeting. Photo by Yongze Wang.

By Vivi Smilgius

The Student Government Association moved to join over 75 colleges across the country in signing a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday calling for the cancellation of student loan debts.

“As student leaders, we have seen the harrowing financial, social, and mental health impacts that the crushing weight of student loan debt imposes upon students and alumni by exacerbating the financial insecurity, social inequities, and economic stagnation which impacts over 44 million borrowers in the United States,” reads the letter. “We now urge the President to cancel all student debt to promote educational access, racial equity, and economic recovery.”

Emerson signed on Oct. 15, alongside institutions including the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

SGA also furthered its push for mental health initiatives across campuses in Massachusetts— a project that includes mental health days and wellness passes in students’ semesters.

The association plans to address the New England Commission for Higher Education regarding this issue because college and university policies will be more difficult to overturn individually.

“If we can change the requirements and guidelines at that institutional level, schools will be forced to comply,” said SGA Executive President jehan ayesha-wirasto during the meeting.

The association is also furthering a push for menstrual initiatives at nearby schools which, unlike Emerson, do not yet provide menstrual products in on-campus bathrooms free of charge.

Executive Secretary Isabella Astuto represented SGA at a meeting for the Library and Technology Committee in early October. Astuto said the committee discussed lengthening library hours during finals week and ways to get more people involved at the library.

“I brought up [the idea of] longer hours during exam seasons and opened up questions about conversations about how to get more involved at the library,” said Astuto. 

The committee also talked about ways to help teachers understand Canvas, the online software Emerson uses to manage coursework, because some professors have trouble using it in a way that benefits students.