Dozens of students crowded the entrance of the Borough of Manhattan Community College on Oct. 15, as the New York Public Interest Research Group held a press conference that discussed the outrage felt by students who have fallen victim to unemployment based on credit checks.
“People are unaware that this is happening and why it’s happening,” said Robert Noonan, the project coordinator for the Queens College chapter of NYPIRG. “The feelings that students give off when they hear about this are frustration because it is a practice that discriminates against youth, minority or other underrepresented groups.”
Noonan, along with numerous students and council members, spearheaded this campaign to bring attention to the idea that credit checks for students in debt will leave them perpetually unemployed, thus in debt.
“People go to school for 4 years to develop certain skills and get a job, only to find out that that exact schooling and money they needed to borrow, keeps them from getting those jobs. Definite frustration,” Noonan said.
According to the press release for NYPIRG, CUNY students urged the NYC council to pass the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act. This bill would prohibit credit checks by employers throughout the five boroughs.
QC senior, Cynthia Mendez is 23 and worries about her upcoming graduation in six months; she sympathizes with many students who are dealing with the credit issue. “If a job is going to hire me based on my credit, then I’m pretty much out of luck,” Mendez said. “I’m gonna owe about $3,000 right after college. How am I going to pay that off if I don’t have a job? How can I get a job if they don’t want to higher me because I have a loan to pay off?”
With this cycle of unemployment and loans, students like Mendez are fearful of a future where credit checks outweigh the academic prestige that comes with a degree.
“The use of credit checks by employers for making personnel decisions has proven to be a discriminatory and backwards policy that only hurts the thousands of unemployed people in New York City,” Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said. “As 1 in 5 people in this city are below the poverty line and close to 3 in 10 of all Latinos in the city are in poverty, we should be looking for ways to hire people rather than for reasons not to.”