Letter to the Editor

The Eastern Michigan University Collections Department is currently practicing a policy that creates an unnecessary hardship to students who are forced to file for Federal Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Federal Chapter 7 bankruptcy entitles citizens who are experiencing a dire financial condition to seek relief from creditors who threaten court action upon them to collect a debt that has not been paid. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended to give citizens a “fresh start” financially. The EMU Collections Department is not allowing this “fresh start” to occur because their policy is to flagrantly violate Federal bankruptcy laws by not discharging debt claimed during the bankruptcy process.

The present EMU Collections Department policy is to hold a student’s degree as hostage until the debt is paid in full. If a student has taken all of his required classes in his program of study and then must take his internship to finish his degree, the EMU Collections Department will not allow that student to complete his program by registering for his internship until he pays his debt. The only penalty which can be placed upon the EMU Collections Department for violating these Federal laws is to be sued in court.

Unfortunately, many Chapter 7 bankruptcy students are not in a financial position to hire and attorney to represent them in court and therefore feel pressured to pay the EMU Collections Department the money that they require. This “fresh start” that was intended to occur by the Federal Government has now been negated by an educational institution whose policy it is to exploit the poor for their own financial gain.

Students who attend EMU work hard in order to earn a college degree, thus hoping to improve the quality of their lives. The current policy of holding a degree hostage by refusing Chapter 7 bankruptcy students to complete their education until the debt is paid in full represents a gross injustice and must be changed.

Under the current policy, students who cannot afford the retainer fee to hire an attorney to represent them in court and cannot meet the financial requirements of the EMU Collections Department are forced to end their quest for a college degree. Under the current policy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy students cannot improve the quality of their lives. This policy fosters an environment where the poor get poorer.

The EMU Collections Department must rewrite their policy to abide by Federal bankruptcy laws. Discharging debt claimed by citizens in the bankruptcy process, just as credit card and healthcare institutions do, would ease the financial burden of students who leave the bankruptcy process to experience a new financial beginning. If it is the policy of EMU to see that their students work hard to earn a degree and become successful in life, then the proper motivation procedures must be in place.

It is the responsibility of the university to take the necessary steps to enact the proper changes to prevent itself from creating an environment which results in irreparable harm to a now highly respected and successful Eastern Michigan University.

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