By JALEN CROSTEN, age 12 and TOM ENGLISH

PHOTO: OCCUPYWALLST.ORG Occupy Student Debt is a website that collects stories from people trying to deal with their debt; knowing that you are not alone is the first step to changing something in society together. PHOTO: Occupywallst.org

Occupy Wall Street, or OWS, is a people-powered movement that started in September last year in Manhattan and has spread to over 100 U.S cities and across the globe. OWS wants to fight back against the richest 1 percent of people who are writing the rules of an unfair global economy.

OWS opposes all forms of injustice and harassment, especially those coming from Wall Street. OWS isn’t just about protest, it’s also about direct action. OWS has made a strong impact already. The actions in this, the second year, are more focused. Occupy is concentrating on student debt. Many of our older brothers and sisters have to borrow money to go to school, and, because of the bad economy, they often cannot find jobs (53% of recent graduates), and fall behind in their payments and end up owing more money, often taking many long years to pay back, if at all. When someone can’t pay back a loan, it is called a default; about 20 percent are in default.

About 36 million people in the U.S. have student loans, totaling about $1 trillion. Even if a person declares bankruptcy, the loans don’t go away. Occupy thinks this is unfair. One of the things Occupy has also suggested is debt refusal; if everyone refuses to pay, perhaps the holders of the loans will listen.

Occupy has had some impact in Congress. The Student Debt Forgiveness Act of 2012, proposed by Hansen Clarke, would prohibit interest rates over 3.4% and forgive most loans after 10 years.

Visit Occupy Student Debt at: http://occupystudentdebt.com/

Also, check out Occupy’s “Rolling Jubilee” debt elimination project: http://rollingjubilee.org/