Press Release

Columbia Graduates Call for Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street to Address Student Debt

Tuesday Press Conference – 8 a.m. Columbia Campus

New York - Members of the Class of 2013 of Columbia University, joined by graduating students from other campuses and supporters, will hold a press conference outside the Main Gate to Columbia University on Broadway at W. 116th Street on Tuesday, May 21 at 8 a.m. The students, many of whom are buried in debt from college tuition costs, are calling for a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street transactions to fund education programs that could alleviate student debt now and in the future. Student debt in the U.S. has surpassed consumer debt and now stands at an amount in excess of $1 trillion.
“The average student from the Class of 2013 will graduate with more than $25,000 in debt on average. These skyrocketing rates of debt are devastating to college graduates, many of whom struggle to find work right after college,” said Evan Burger, a graduating Columbia student. “Education should not be this prohibitive for students.” According to the Federal Reserve, 13 percent of student-loan borrowers owe more than $50,000 and 4 percent owe in excess of $100,000.
Columbia Professor and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote  in a column, “Student Debt and the Crushing of the American Dream,”  published this month in the New York Times, “Like the housing crisis that preceded it, this crisis is intimately connected to America’s soaring inequality, as Americans on the bottom rungs of the ladder strive to climb up, they are inevitably pulled down – some to a point even lower than where they began…. [W]e must do something about student debt.”

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The Robin Hood Tax is embodied in the Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1579, reintroduced in Congress last month by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and endorsed by more than 150 organizations of labor, consumers, health advocates, housing activists, small businesses and others.  H.R. 1579 would levy a sales tax of 0.5% on stock trades, and lesser rates on bonds, derivatives and currency transactions, to raise an estimated $350 billion a year.  
The Ellison bill calls for some of the new revenue to address “student debt relief” Sec. 2(13)(B)(ii).  Revenue from the Robin Hood Tax would also be used to support job creation, healthcare, repairs to infrastructure, climate change prevention, and global health programs, including more funds for research and treatment of HIV/AIDS, as well as other education programs. More information can be found at
Amirah Sequeira, one of the protest organizers from the Student Global AIDS Campaign and a Columbia graduate, Class of 2012, said "A Robin Hood Tax could make education affordable again, build housing, create jobs and strengthen healthcare around the world. Why would we not follow the lead of 11 countries in the Eurozone and implement one here?"
The graduates will be joined by current students, recent alumni, and graduates from other New York City schools, including New York University and City College of New York, and other supporters.   Earlier this month, graduates at American University donned red patches on their graduation robes to call attention to student debt and to advocate for the Robin Hood Tax. 

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