When walking through the breezeway on any average weekday at UM, I can be sure that I’ll find some credit card company set up for tabling. These companies are armed with spectacular giveaways and a horde of applications, clipboard attached and ready to be filled out. These credit card companies are nothing more than white-collar loan sharks, praying on the inexperience of our undergraduates. They heavily target college students because they know we make their most profitable customers.
When given a credit card, most college students will quickly rack up heavy debt, and then garner late fees and high interest rates when they inevitably miss a payment. According to a USA Today study in 2001, the average college student owes over $2,500 to credit card companies. Over 70 percent of college students own a credit card, and of those students, one fifth carry a debt in excess of $10,000. Do you want to know the worst part about this whole deal? UM allows, and may even profit from, the credit companies’ predatory presence on our campus.
The effects on college students from credit card debt are serious and horrific. Many employers have begun denying job applications based on bad credit history. Because of bad credit, students are being denied crucial loans after graduation needed to build homes, buy cars and go to graduate school. Students have to drop out of school in order to work enough to manage their credit debt. An administrator at Indiana University stated that IU lost more students in 1998 due to credit debt than they lost due to academic difficulty. And in the most extreme cases, college students have even committed suicide due to the immense pressure of unmanageable credit card debt.
The credit card companies that camp out in UM’s breezeway aren’t there to give away exciting gifts; they’re there to sign up the next batch of college students that will bring them massive profits. They’re profiting at our great expense, and UM is right there with them. The University grants them access to our breezeway and receives profit from the use of our logo on specially designed cards. Most universities even receive kickbacks from the credit card companies for the access provided to their student body.
UM prides itself on being an institution where students can come to learn and grow. The students should be the University’s most prized assets. UM is supposed to be an institution protecting its students and fostering personal and academic growth in them.
In a message from President Shalala posted on www.miami.edu talking about the Momentum campaign, she states: “We [UM] transform lives through the energy and expertise of our graduates, (and) our teacher-scholars…”
There are lives being transformed at UM, but what are they being transformed into? Are they being transformed into the educated leaders of tomorrow, or the debt-riddled statistics you hear about in the news? Sadly, too many of our students will become the latter, and it’s up to the University to see that it stops. Yes, we have the power to walk by those tables in the breezeway, but, more often than not, we lack the life experience to know that we should. Nothing short of UM’s complete disassociation with the credit card wolves will be sufficient to show genuine commitment to the student body of the University of Miami.
(Some facts stated in this article were found on http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/ru-fit/collegestudents.asp)
Don Donelson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.