The Progressive Youth Organization of Kansas City (PYO-KC) organized a rally Wednesday in an effort to end student debt and secure higher education as a right for all Americans.
As of 2014, the average debt of a UMKC student is 29,464.
PYO – KC wants this to stop by proposing debt-free and tuition-free universities.
The group gathered at the UMKC Quad outside of Royal Hall. PYO-KC made their way down Rockhill Rd., across 51st Street, and down Troost. They shouted, “Hey hey, ho ho, student debt has got to go!” and gained honks of approval from passing cars.
PYO-KC is a local youth organization that aims to unite the widest possible section of progressive and revolutionary-minded students and working-class youth to serve the community as advocates for issues that affect working class people.
They not only demand access to education, but justice for undocumented immigrants, daycare and afterschool programs for children, an end to police brutality, access to jobs and a 15 dollar minimum wage.
PYO-KC is based in working-class communities, student communities, and oppressed nationality communities in Kansas City, The protesters intentionally chose their rally route east of Troost to try to reach their supporters.
They made their way back west on 52nd Street, passing through the urban dividing line that separated Rockhurst University from the rest of the neighborhood.
Rally participators took notice of the difference in the scenery on either side of the street.
“Just look at the difference in the sidewalks,” one PYO member said. “They say desegregation, but they don’t even fix the other side of the sidewalk and put gates up to separate the school from the working class community.”
PYO-KC wasn’t shy with their demands or their language. If they weren’t able to get the attention the needed, they caught attention with the chant, “F— your tuition! F— your debt! You bailed out the bankers, it’s our turn next!”
“A lot of student activism, whether it be revolutionary or progressive, often gets suppressed in the university environment,” said Kevin Bailey, PYO-KC’s general secretary and UMKC graduate student.
PYO focuses on change and change starts when people demand it.
“Our business is building a social movement,” Bailey said. “We want to build something that lasts.”