On September 17 we will launch a campaign to amplify ongoing protests against the privatization of our colleges and universities. Our latest debt buy is also an opportunity to promote the common-sense solutions that are being ignored by elected officials from, such as making all 2- and 4-year public colleges tuition free.
We encourage students around the country to join us on the week of September 17 by holding a rally or a debt assembly on your campus. You can learn more about how to host an assembly here. You can also read about a debt assembly held earlier this year by students at Southern Illinois University here.
As always, to our friends and families, we owe you everything. To the financial establishment of the world, we owe you nothing.
What Is A Debt Assembly?
A debt assembly is when a group of people of any size gather in a public place to talk about how debt is affecting their lives and communities. Debt assemblies can feature personal stories as well as presentations by invited speakers. Sometimes they are followed by actions such as marches. Watch a debt assembly that took place in NYC here and in Philadelphia here.
Why Host A Debt Assembly?
Publicly discussing debt allows attendees to shed the shame of being in debt and connect with people in the same situation. It is a first step in towards discussing the political function of an indebted public, and strategize about how you can change the situation through collective action.
Who Can Host A Debt Assembly?
Who Can Attend A Debt Assembly?
Anyone, debtors and non-debtors.
Debt assemblies are typically held in public places, such as parks or town squares. You should choose a location that is visible (one of the goals of a debt assembly is to engage people who might be passing by) but is quiet enough so people can hear each other. It may be necessary to use the human mic if there are a lot of people at your assembly. See the human mic in action here.
Plan Your Assembly
Invite your friends, colleagues, and neighbors! Tell them that they are invited to come and talk about debt and its impact on their lives in a supportive environment. Make sure to emphasize that it is perfectly acceptable to attend a debt assembly without speaking. Some people may want to listen to others’ stories before they tell their own, some may never want to speak, and others may not have personal debt at all. Attendance and participation are completely voluntary; no one should ever be pressured to speak out at an assembly.
Make signs and posters that can be held aloft by participants during the assembly or placed on the ground around the gathering. This is to alert people in the area about what is happening and make them feel welcome if they want to join. Examples:
“Join Our Debt Assembly!” Or “Tell Us Your Debt Story!”
Promote Your Assembly
Once you have a location and a day/time for your assembly, publicize it widely through word-of-mouth and social media like Facebook. Create a Facebook event page and invite all your friends to attend the assembly. In turn, some of them may invite their friends. In no time, an assembly that you planned with one or two other people can grow into a larger gathering with a big public presence.
Twitter is also a great way to get the word out about your assembly. Post a message about your assembly (perhaps with a link to the FB event page) on Twitter and tag any relevant people or organizations. If there are local Occupy groups or community organizations that may be interested in your assembly, include their @ handle in your Twitter messages. Use hashtags in your tweets to start conversations about debt. Tags like #[yourtown]debtassembly may encourage people in your community to start talking about debt and check out your assembly.
During The Assembly
Find someone to facilitate the debt assembly. The goal of facilitation is to make sure that everyone feels heard, respected, and supported. A facilitator is less a leader than someone who has been tasked with ensuring that the assembly progresses as planned with respect and compassion for all. The direct democracy method used by Occupy Wall Street is a good model. Watch a video about how to facilitate any assembly here.
If you plan to take video or audio at the assembly, ask attendees if they agree to have their image or voice recorded. If anyone says they don’t want their presence at the assembly recorded, facilitators and media people must respect that.
At the end of the assembly, once it is clear that everyone who wants to speak has had the opportunity to do so, ask if people would like to plan a follow-up assembly. If attendees agree, plan a second assembly right then, or task someone with carrying out the planning for the next gathering.
After the Assembly
Write a blog about the assembly or post Facebook or Twitter messages about what happened and what was said at your assembly. It is important not to use attendees names in anything you write or report about the assembly.
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