The Face of Student Debt

Written by Kaitlin Mahar

Shakeem T. Fowler, a 22-year-old student at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., was charged with second-degree larceny last week for stealing about $14,000 in cash receipts from BJ’s Wholesale Club.Why, you ask? What’s the difference between this man and any other troubled youth from Bridgeport, Conn.?

shakeem-fowler

The answer is simple. Shakeem needed to pay his tuition.

While not everybody takes the route of stealing from their places of employment, college students go to ridiculous lengths to be able to get their education, all for the slight chance of providing a better life for themselves and their loved ones. According to a 2013 Huffington Post article, 53 percent of readers said a college degree was necessary for a good life, as opposed to the 28 percent who believed it isn’t.

Additionally, 62 percent believed that public college tuition wasn’t affordable. Fowler exemplifies what this country has come to: Students having to steal in order to afford their education.

Is he really the criminal here? Or is he yet another victim of the cold, domineering hand of Sallie Mae as she squeezes the life and life savings out of today’s students?

Take another look at Fowler. He isn’t simply a poster boy for those who want an education. Shakeem T. Fowler is a representative of those who need an education and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, no matter the cost.

Each week the editors of the Corral will be highlighting their favorite blog posts from the department of Communication’s senior seminar course. This semester the course focuses on the issues of income inequality and poverty in the United States. Check out the class blog here. A link to Kaitlin’s original post can be found here.

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