Students Protest Aid Policy
Students for Sensible Drug Policies (SSDP) took to MU's Speaker Circle today to protest a drug provision in the Higher Education Act. The provision strips student aid from anyone who has been convicted of possessing or selling drugs. The SSDP wanted to make a point.
"We've got our pockets out today to symbolize the fact that students are being denied financial aid, that they're being denied access to an education," said Joe Bartlett, the SSDP President.
Besides holding signs and turning out their pockets, the group handed out flyers to draw attention to Question 31 on the FAFSA form. It asks: Have you ever been convicted of possessing or selling illegal drugs? Since the question was added, about 175,000 students have been denied financial aid nation-wide in the last five years. Jonthon coulson has never been convicted of a crime but knows what would happen if he had.
"I could likely lose my educational fees, and I'm a Pell Grant recipient. I wouldn't be able to go to any college, any college at all," said Jonthon Coulson, a graduate student at MU.
Coulson came out today to educate other students about the provision he hopes will be revoked.
"It seems like the use of criminal justice against what I'm doing will hurt me more than the use of the plant itself. I don't see the logic in it," Coulson said.
Students signed a petition at Speaker Circle as similar demonstrations took place on fifteen other campuses across the country. The university says a very small number of MU students lost federal money due to a drug conviction.