This afternoon, a group of about seventy-five students mobilized at the OccupyDC camp at McPherson Square to raise the issue of crushing student debt. The average student, facing grim job prospects in the current economy, is graduating with at least $24,000 of debt.
The students and recent graduates then marched several blocks through DC to the lobbying headquarters of student loan giant Sallie Mae. As students posted letters and stories about their own debt on the walls of the building, a phalanx of police officers and security guards blocked anyone from entering the building.
The demonstrators, who had planned to voice their grievances in the lobby of the building, began chanting “if we had money, they’d let us in!” As the crowd swelled outside the Sallie Mae office at 7th Street and Pennsylvanie Avenue, security officers continued to block protesters from entering. The peaceful crowd said they only wanted to air their grievances with a representative from Sallie Mae, but were rebuffed. Watch it:
The demonstrators formed a human chain and said they didn’t want to see people leave without talking to them about student debt. Eventually, police escorted employees out of the building, and demonstrators verbally warned eachother against the use of any violence or harassment against Sallie Mae staffers. Watch the employees exit under police escort:
Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender, has spent millions lobbying Congress to continue massive government subsidies to private lenders. Worse, Sallie Mae has lobbied aggressively, using money received from students, to allow private lenders to use predatory practices, including hidden fees.
ThinkProgress Intern Rebecca Leber contributed to this report.