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MTA: 'They don't really care about us' say students

Maryam Abdul-Aleem | 4/12/2011, 4:39 p.m.

It wasn't the typical demonstration against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed elimination of student MetroCards that many may have been expecting on Monday in front of the MTA headquarters. Instead, hundreds of teenage students came out in solidarity to let the MTA know that they care about the effect that phasing out their student passes would create for the hopes and dreams of gaining an education toward a brighter future.

Many students sang along to the Michael Jackson song "They Don't Care About Us" as it rang out to the feeling they expressed about the MTA board's even conceiving such a thought as to make the youngsters' parents have to pay for their children to get to school every day at $4.50 for a roundtrip fare.

Fnasha Prioleau, 15, said she wants to be a doctor in the near future and questioned why the MTA would strip students of their free pass to an education.

"If they take our MetroCards away they really don't care about us. How else are we supposed to get to school and get an education? They talk about 'no child left behind.' You are making an entire dropout rate."

Ricky Ravenell, 16, who attends a school in the Bronx said, "As the song says, they don't really care about us. And it's true because they trying to cut off MetroCards for kids that get a good education." Dancing to the music, he said he and a few of his classmates "came out here to show them that we do care about our education."

Mingled in the crowd was New York State Assemblywoman Inez Barron, who said she did not participate in organizing the event but was on hand to show her support for what students would have to experience if they are forced to give up their MetroCards.

"I think this is wonderful that the students are mobilizing and coming together and doing the activism that it needs to make this movement more broad base. This is how the Civil Rights Movement got started, with the fervor of the kids, students and young people. I can see this as a kick off for all that we are talking about getting mobilized," she said.

She continued to say, "I think it's horrendous that students are being asked to give up their MetroCards. We talk about free education, but if students have to pay to get to school then it's certainly not free education. It's a tax that's being put on their education."

The word spread and students got mobilized on social networking sites like Facebook, while others said they heard about the demonstration on the news. Students walked out of last-period classes with the blessing of their parents and other came straight after the school bell.

Julie Fry, a member of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), said the demonstration was, "Pretty spontaneous."

Fry said it was organized by the outpouring of students that are angry about these budget cuts when bankers are getting bailed out while students, working-class and poor people have to endure these cuts.