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Wooster to host event about student loan debt

“For Profit,” a one-man play, will be presented on March 5, along with a post-performance panel discussing the debt crisis

Thanks to rising tuition costs and a tough job market, recent college graduates have an average $27,000 in student loan debt, according to CNN. It is on an issue that affects many students, but is one that is often ignored until after graduation. “For Profit,” a one-man play presented by Aaron Calafato, aims to remedy that. Calafato plays nearly a dozen characters in the production, focusing on an admissions counselor at a for-profit college and the exploitation of American students. The aim of the show and panel is to generate a conversation about the ever-growing student debt crisis.

The show is inspired by Calafato’s own experiences working in the admissions office of a for-profit school, as well as his own debt. He and his wife had a combined $120,000 in student loan debt.

The event is sponsored by the Wooster Libertarians & SGA with support from the Wooster Democratic Socialists, Wooster Tea Club, Reach Trade and Vegan Co-op. The show is free and open to students and members of the community.

The show has been performed in both New York City and in the Cleveland area. It has also been featured in The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education and NPR.

Muhammad Daud ’14, one of the students who helped organize the event, had previously met Calafato through Vote Mob, an organization dedicated to getting students to vote. “He was interested in hosting a performance at the College, having previously performed at last year’s Wooster Jam, so I approached groups to see if they were interested in sponsoring the show,” said Daud.

“We wanted to do an event addressing debt because people don’t talk about it,” said Gareth McNamara ’14, another student who helped organize the event. “It was perfect to have something like this presented because it fits perfectly with something we wanted to do.”

Following the event, the panel will answer questions submitted via the event’s Facebook page. The organizers felt this aspect of the event was so important that they pushed everything back to ensure it could happen.

“It’s important because it’s the Wooster specific part. The show is being performed around the state after this, and has been performed elsewhere, but the panel is tailored to here,” McNamara said.

The panel was inspired by the organizers’ desire to share real world experiences about student debt.

“There will be a certain amount of FAQ and data, but that’s out there in droves. What’s more important to us is sharing what it is actually like instead of keeping it at arm’s length and just sharing figures,” McNamara said.

Current members of the panel include Joel Solow, the Northeast Ohio Organizer with the Ohio Student Association, who will serve as the moderator, English and History Professor Robert MacLean, College of Wooster graduate Eric Bueck and Paul Cebul, the founder of Reach Trade Coffee Company. In addition, the organizers hope to get other speakers for the panel.

The performance and panel will be live streamed via YouTube for those unable to attend. This stream is the first time the event is being live streamed, and Calafato hopes that this will allow the discussion to reach a larger audience. The event is March 5 in Gault Recital Hall from 7:30 to 9 p.m.


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