Join JALSA for our May Tzedek Salon!
We bring young people, in their 20’s and 30’s, together with activists and policy experts at local bars to explore the issues facing our society.
This month, we are partnering with the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) to host a discussion on the student debt crisis. We will speak with Zac Bears, Executive Director at PHENOM, and Rep. Natalie Higgins, co-author of S.2380, An Act establishing a student loan bill of rights, and former Executive Director at PHENOM.
In the past decade, it has become increasingly costly to attend public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. Reduced state funding and scholarships have forced students and their families to take out large loans, making once affordable degrees inaccessible. According to a recent Boston Globe article, graduates of the University of Massachusetts system and state universities now leave with about $30,250 in debt, just 7 percent less than the $32,355 of debt held by graduates of private colleges in Massachusetts.
We will learn about the history of the student debt crisis, the corporatization and financialization of higher education, and the specific impacts on public higher education in Massachusetts. Participants will discuss how student debt has impacted our lives, and how we can organize to build a #DebtFreeFuture for students and families.
Zac Bears is the secretary of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and represents PHENOM on the executive board of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. Zac served as PHENOM’s interim organizing director from November 2016 to January 2017. He graduated from UMass Amherst in 2015 with degrees in political science and economics, has worked as an economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and AFSCME.
Natalie Higgins was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in November 2016 and sworn in as State Representative for the 4th Worcester District (Leominster) on January 4, 2017. Natalie is a lifelong Leominster resident, Boston-educated attorney, and former non-profit director and rape crisis counselor, who is dedicated to service and advocacy. A 2006 graduate of Leominster High School, Natalie obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UMass Amherst, earned her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 2014.
Tzedek Salons are free of charge. All are welcome.
Space is wheelchair accessible and light refreshments will be served. For all other accessibility questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.