No Justice, No Meeting

On May 4th, Debt Collective organizers and Corinthian student debt strikers were scheduled to return to Washington D.C. to meet with Secretary Arne Duncan for the purpose of hearing his response to students’ demands for debt cancellation. We will not be attending that meeting. We have learned that the Department has decided not to use its authority to provide a full discharge to everyone defrauded by Corinthian Colleges and, thus, had no intention of meeting with us in good faith. We refuse to be the pawns of a Department that seeks to use the students’ campaign to give cover to their ongoing failures.

Since we last met with the Department on March 31st, the AP, Huffington Post and other press outlets have begun to report that the Department of Education is rushing into an individualized Defense to Repayment process in which every current and former Corinthian student would have to re-prove their injury. The systemic fraud perpetrated by Corinthian has been demonstrated over and over by the multiple lawsuits brought by state Attorneys General, by the findings of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and by testimony from scores of students. The only reason the Department favors an individualized process is that it allows them to prevent as many students as possible from getting relief.

It has come to our attention that Secretary Duncan and other Department officials are using striking Corinthian students and the Debt Collective’s name to give themselves a PR boost. Secretary Duncan and Under Secretary Mitchell have taken to press and media outlets like MSNBC to congratulate themselves for meeting with students. This opportunism is a blatant manipulation of debt strikers who have, from the beginning, made a clear demand for class-wide debt discharge. In addition to refusing to provide relief, the Department has chosen to condescend to victims by shepherding them into a new debt trap: Corinthian schools are closing across the country and students are being encouraged to enroll in other for-profit schools.

The Corinthian 100 and the Debt Collective refuse to be included in a process that undermines justice for Corinthian students. We will not meet with Secretary Duncan as previously scheduled. Instead, we will soon call a meeting with those who have announced their support for the striking Corinthian students.

The Corinthian 100 and the Debt Collective will invite state Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington, Senators Baldwin, Blumenthal, Boxer, Durbin, Franken, Hirono, Markey, Merkley, Murphy, Reed, Schatz, Warren and Whitehouse, Representatives Ellison, Grijalva and Waters, representatives from SEIU, AFT, Demos, Jobs with Justice, and the National Consumer Law Center, and other allies to a meeting to discuss how to move forward to win real justice for Corinthian students.

In the meantime, we continue to invite Corinthian students to join the ongoing debt strike, and we encourage others to support the strikers through a campaign of mass economic disobedience. We will continue to build collective power until the Department of Education decides to take seriously its legal and moral obligation to cancel the federal student loans of defrauded students. We will welcome Secretary Duncan to a celebratory meeting at the moment the Department is ready to announce a class-wide discharge.

Statements from student debt strikers (More statements from strikers will be added to this page as they come in.)

“United we stand against the injustices we face from the Department of Education. We will not pay for your crimes.” - Nathan Hornes, California, Corinthian 100

"All Corinthian student debtors deserve justice. We demand a full discharge for all. It's insulting to watch this so-called ‘regulatory body’ publicize that it cares about us while allowing the entities they are truly aligned with to bleed us dry. By doing this the Department of Education is effectively engaging in predatory lending and fraud." - Paul Hicks, Texas, Corinthian 100

“Admit you are in the wrong, Department of Education and discharge all our student debt. Go after the real criminals, Corinthian Colleges. I won’t pay for a worthless, meaningless degree.” - Brittany Prock, Texas, Corinthian 100

“I am personally looking at the prospect of becoming homeless because I have been told by several agencies that my debt-to-income ratio is too high to obtain a mortgage to purchase a home and/or I do not earn the income I COULD be earning that would allow me to rent a home large enough to house my family!!! Shame on you DOE. This entire fiasco could have been avoided!!!!” - Pamela Hunt, Connecticut, Corinthian 100

“A few weeks ago, I went with other students from the Debt Collective to Washington, DC to meet with the Undersecretary of Education, Ted Mitchell. He expressed concern that our legal rights may have been violated, and indicated that the Department was working on a solution. It makes me very upset that our government allowed for us to be exploited by giving Everest funding. I felt that I could trust my college because they were endorsed by the government, and now I feel like my government is responsible for what has happened to us.” Tasha Courtright, California, Corinthian 100