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Students Take Over US Campuses Demanding Free College

Student activists held actions on some 120 campuses, demanding free tuition, cancellation of student debts and a $15 minimum wage for campus workers.

An unprecedented wave of action is sweeping across 120 college campuses today. Participants in the nationwide “Million Student March” (#MillionStudentMarch) are uniting around three demands: tuition-free public colleges and universities, cancellation of $1.3 trillion in student debt, and a $15 an hour minimum wage for all campus workers. Here are some live updates from campuses across America participating in the historic first-ever national day of action for free college.

The Million Student March at the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus swelled to several hundred this afternoon. This video shows the size of the crowd as they gathered in front of Campbell Hall:

Hundreds of students took over the Temple University campus in Philadelphia this afternoon. They were later joined by students from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia campus for a march on city hall:

At the University of Texas’ main campus in Austin, several hundred students walked out:

Elsewhere in Texas, the Texas State University campus in San Marcos saw students channeling the South African student movement that recently succeeded in defeating a double-digit tuition hike scheduled to take effect the following academic year, chanting: “Fees must fall!”

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Also on the Texas State University campus, Democratic congressional candidate Thomas Wakely, who is challenging incumbent Republican Lamar Smith in 2016, joined the march. Wakely said he knows exactly why students are marching, as he’s currently making payments on $100,000 in student loans:

One of the largest marches today is happening at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst campus, which had 542 participants on its official Facebook event. The Amherst Wire — UMass-Amherst’s campus paper — captured the moment when the march took over a campus building for an impromptu rally:

UMass-Amherst students also dropped banners from the balcony of the building, and chanted not just for free college and cancellation of debt, but for divesting the university’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry.

Critics of the Million Student March are claiming that free college is unaffordable, but marchers say the money can be easily obtained through a number of common-sense measures. For example, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed a 1 percent financial transactions tax on Wall Street, effectively putting a small sales tax on all trading of stocks, bonds, options, and derivatives, expected to generate $300 billion annually. According to Strike Debt, the true cost of providing a tuition-free 4-year college education to all students would be just $15 billion per year if the US government were to scrap all current student aid programs and tax exemptions and start anew.

Congressional hopeful Thomas Wakely said in Texas, free college could be easily paid for by the oil and gas industry:

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