BERKELEY, Calif. – Hundreds of nurses and students assembled at the University of California, Berkeley as part of the Million Student March national day of action to call on free public death, cancellation of all student debt and $15 an hour minimum wage across the country.
Students and nurses marched to the administration building posting cards showing the amounts of student loan debts they’ve been saddled with.
According to a recent online article from Fortune a study released by the Institute for College Access & Success found that nearly 70 percent of students graduate with an average loan debt of $28,950.
Nurses say they are still paying off their loans as well as the loans of their children.
“We as nurse and also as mothers and also college students we see the suffering and there is no way we’re going to sit there and watch it happen without advocating for them,” said Michelle Vo, a registered nurse with the California Nurses Association (CNA). “By virtue of our profession, we are patient advocates and we are social advocates and that’s why we’re here.”
“These students are our future leaders,” said registered nurse Gina Macalino of CNA. “They’re our children and some of us will have children going to school and pursuing a college education so it’s very important we support them now in getting a free education to better our communities and our nation.”
Nationwide student march was inspired by Vermont senator and democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
According to Sanders, free education could be subsidized by the so-called Robin Hood Tax.
Registered nurse and CNA president Zenei Cortez said, “If we just put a fine on every transaction at Wall Street about .005 percent that in itself that would generate $300 billion a year enough to pay for college education, pay off the student loans, do all the infrastructure that’s needed.”
“We as Americans have to support the Robin Hood Tax,” said registered nurse Virginia Currie. “The amount of money that would be taxed to Wall Street will surely help many parents of today.”
Sanders won the endorsement of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses union and the parent organization of CNA, for his positions on the economy and health care.
“There should not be a single American who cannot dream to go to college,” said Vo. “It shouldn’t be a dream. It should be a reality and health care should be a right and not a privilege and that’s all going to change when we make sure he becomes president.”
The Million Student March took place in over 100 colleges and universities across the country.