MU students protest racism and student debt on MU campus

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COLUMBIA — A group of students protested on MU campus Wednesday morning and afternoon to mark the National Day of Action Against Racism and Student Debt. 

Marshall Allen, one of the protesters, said the group is affiliated with Concerned Student 1950. 

"We're protesting today because 60 percent of college students around the nation are in debt," Allen said. "It coincides with black lives and racism, because a lot of black students, by themselves, happen to take out loans to stay at these universities, which we're really qualified to attend."

Allen said things like affirmative action, diversity awards, scholarships catering towards black students are "real", but said if they were beneficial as they were created to be, the numbers would not be so high.

According to the national day's sponsor, the Million Student March, 81 percent of black students finish college with student debt, compared to 63 percent of white students.

The Missouri students met in front of the MU Student Center and made their way up to Jesse Hall. 

"Coming up to Jesse was important, because that's where financial aid is," Allen said. "If anybody is going to receive the message, it's going to be financial aid, because they're the ones who control the allotment allocation of financial resources." 

Nick Prewett, director of Student Financial Aid at MU, said his workers saw about seven to eight students expressing their concern for growing student debt in the country. He also said the problem is something the university acknowledges. 

"At the University of Missouri, the average debt at graduation is about $23,000, which is shorter of the national average which is about $29,000" Prewett said. "So, at Mizzou, we do a much better job working with our students to make students aware of their student debts and make them aware of financial literacy initiatives to make sure we can work together to make college affordable for every student." 

Prewett said he doesn't really have the demographic break down on student debt to MU. 

Allen said he hopes to "continue and attack structural issues" as black students on a predominantly white institution "to combat everything that's against us."