Four UCSB students were arrested last Monday while protesting outside the entrance to the Sallie Mae building in Washington, D.C. alongside 200 students from universities nationwide.
The demonstration began at 10 a.m. after the group unsuccessfully attempted to meet with the corporation’s CEO to discuss the company’s management of more than $180.4 billion in student loan debt. Within three hours, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department detained 36 individuals, including third-year global studies major Nancy Gama, second-year political science major Jonathan Abboud and two unidentified UCSB students. Abboud and Gama were charged with blocking an entrance after failing to heed officers’ warnings to disperse or face arrest.
Students, who had convened in the region for the U.S. Student Association’s annual Legislative Conference, marched from the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel to the front steps of Sallie Mae, according to Abboud.
“By 12:30 pm, [the police had] given a second warning,” Abboud said. “They said, ‘You have two more minutes if you want to stop and leave and not get arrested. If you don’t, we’re going to arrest you.’”
The students remained in custody for roughly six hours.
Gama, the national organizing director for the Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs office, received the national award for Organizer of the Year at the USSA conference alongside several other nationally recognized students, legislators and advocates for higher education.