Last Wednesday we commemorated $15 billion debt day. That’s how much students now owe as a result of tuition fees and living costs. It’s a very scary figure, which has many consequences now and in the future. My student loan is around $35,000, and I know that when I get a grad job, student loan repayments will mean that my income will be modest. I’ll take longer to do adult things like buying a house or starting a family. I feel really weird talking about this, as debt is not often a topic of conversation. We don’t talk enough about debt and how it affects us.
And it’s not just debt that we don’t talk enough about. As a student population, I think we accept too much. We accept that we’ll leave uni with piles of debt. We accept that we all get blamed for the intoxicated antics of a few. We accept that we are a transient population in our own city.
As students, we need to realise the power we have when we stand together. I had a real sense of that collective power when a tsunami of students (all 22,000 of you!) descended on Wellington last week. The campus was buzzing (there were lines EVERYWHERE). Town was buzzing (yes, that was you in a toga on ONE News last Saturday). Wellington was buzzing. The fact that we can bring a city to life in the space of a week reflects how much of an impact we have on Wellington.
We might be poor, we might be cold (summer where you at?), and we might be stressed, but things can be better if we stand together and speak out.
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At VUWSA, we’ll be capitalising on the collective power of students in the upcoming local body elections. I want to tell council candidates that students matter in Wellington, and they need to listen when we say our flats are shit and we need cheaper public transport.
Okay, rant over. Until next time!