Students launch demonstration against student debt in Village Park

Written By Emily Bennett, Copy Desk Chief

Two anonymous student protesters stood in Village Park Nov. 1, wearing bags over their heads, stating the supposed average amount of Point Park student graduate debt.

The students stood in silence in Village Park for around 20 minutes. Although both agreed to be interviewed, the students wanted to remain anonymous and did not state an explicit reason.

The bags stated: “$32,724: The average amount of debt a Point Park student graduates with, not including room and board or interest.”

This number coincides with an article from, a college matching website. The site states that 74 percent of undergraduate students at Point Park University utilize student loans to pay for their educations, averaging out to $8,181 per year in loans. Annually borrowing this average results in $16,362 after two years of college and $32,724 after four.

Fliers were located at the protestors feet for passing students to read. Written on them was information about a march on student debt on University of Pittsburgh’s campus, set to take place at 5 p.m. on Nov. 17 on the front lawn of the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland.

Another flier provided the “why” of the protest, stating the purpose of the demonstration was “to symbolize how our university doesn’t see us as people, but as numbers on a piece of paper, as means to fill their pockets and get rich while we sign ourselves into lifelong debt.”

At the bottom of the flier, students were encouraged to take part in the conversation by joining a Facebook page titled “PPU Against Debt!”

Cheyenne Rychorcewicz was among the group of students sitting in Village Park during the silent demonstration. Rychorcewicz, a history major, saw the protest as relevant and effective.

“I think people will definitely stop and look and take pictures,” Rychorcewicz said. “Hopefully people will join in with them.”

Rychorcewicz, who is pursuing a job in the education field, said that on top of the debt she’s accumulated from acquiring her undergraduate degree at Point Park, she still has to go to graduate school.

“Student debt is relevant to my life,” Rychorcewicz said. “That’s a lot of money, probably money I won’t even make per year. It’s scary.”

When asked to comment on the protest, Lou Corsaro, managing director of university marketing and public relations, said a Point Park education is an “excellent value.”

Corsaro also emphasized that student money does not go towards any new campus building endeavors, referencing the new Center for Media Innovation, which was fully funded through a grant from the Allegheny Foundation, as an example.

“The university works with each student to ensure a quality, affordable education and awards more than $80 million annually in financial aid,” Corsaro said. “Student tuition does not go toward campus building projects.”

The Globe inquired about the accuracy of the amount indicated on the protestors’ bags. Corsaro did not provide any comment regarding the numbers.