Some members of the Winston-Salem City Council have said student loans are not an issue for the city to take a stand on, but a majority of the council voted Monday to ask the federal government to forgive student loan debt and to designate higher education as a “public”. good.”
By a vote of 6 to 2, council approved a resolution sponsored by North Ward council member DD Adams, which calls for debt relief.
The resolution says student debt harms young people’s ability to buy homes, pay for child care costs or other basic needs, and contribute to the economy through their spending.
Additionally, the resolution states that canceling student debt would help young people begin to build wealth and provide more economic stimulus for the relief of the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution also notes that black borrowers, low-income students and women are more likely than other groups to need loans for their education and are at higher risk of default.
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When council members discussed the resolution in committee last week, some council members expressed strong support:
“Our young people are saddled with a huge debt to get an education,” said East Ward council member Annette Scippio. “If we want to have an educated society, it must be affordable.”
Council member John Larson, from South Ward, said while he supported the resolution, universities need to “be more realistic about how they charge students”.
On the other hand, West Ward Council member Robert Clark said the council is “putting our noses where it doesn’t belong”, but also had other objections:
“What do you do with people who have paid off their student debt? asked Clark. “Are they getting their money back? What about people who go into debt to get a medical degree and can afford it? »
Northwest Ward Council member Jeff MacIntosh said the city would “make a move that we can’t influence.”
“It’s going to be resolved on Capitol Hill, or it’s not,” MacIntosh said. “I’m not for meaningless gestures.”
Adams disagreed, pointing out that city officials across the country lobbied for relief when the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect local governments.
Northeast Ward Council member Barbara Burke said the resolution was a sign of “solidarity” with those affected by the debt.
“It’s a way for us to send a message,” she said.
Clark and MacIntosh cast the only votes against the resolution on Monday. Adams, Burke, Larson and Scippio voted in favor, along with South East Ward Council Member James Taylor and South West Ward Council Member Kevin Mundy.