My mom often calls me after watching the news with worry in her voice, telling me about some young college girl out for a jog at night who was kidnapped. And then she, of course, forbids me to ever go running outside again. But the most common stories she tells me are the ones about university-enrolled students who use sex work as a means of paying college loans.
The first time my mom told me about a girl my age who used a hookup app to find clients that helped pay for her college — and who was then later killed by one of them — I was shocked, but I thought it was a one-time thing, an anomaly, a sad experience that surely would never happen again. But as I am sure those of you who keep up with the news know, this is no longer an uncommon story to be seen in breaking news headlines.
When my mom and I talk about these kinds of stories on the news, she often asks in disbelief why these students would ever resort to such means to pay for college. She cannot get past the fact that a student would feel so desperate for money that they see selling their body as a viable option.
I cannot control the economy or the fact that, due to inflation, our prices for attending a university have doubled, tripled and quadrupled and continue to do so at a steady rate. It is now the cultural norm for students to feel incredible pressure to attend college in order to obtain successful careers. Also to take out so many loans and incur so much debt that it is impossible for some post-graduate students to secure good credit or get loans for houses and cars. This cycle is ridiculous, and it produces students who are prone to severe depression and anxiety due to the extreme pressure upon them, along with the fact that it is almost logistically impossible to graduate nowadays without debt.
I may not be able to fully comprehend why fellow students who are my age are forced into extreme methods to help pay for student loans, because I am privileged enough to not be in such dire situations in regard to student debt. But I cannot deny the warning signs in our society that prove that events like this are becoming more and more common for a reason, and they are not just random occurrences.
A fellow student who is my age should never feel the pressure to have to resort to such measures just to pay for higher education and a better future. But let me make this clear: this article is focused upon students who feel forced into sex work because of ridiculously high college prices and an inability to access supportive financial methods. For students who decide of their own personal volition to make money in this way, that is their decision and I hold nothing against sex workers who do so by choice. If a student in college decides of their own free will and not due to outside financial stressors to enter into this specific work field, that is their right to take up this job as a profession, and I have absolutely nothing against that. But a student doing it to pay college loans should not have to be put into such a situation just to secure a proper education.
I cannot give my mom answers when she turns to me with questions in her eyes from watching a horror-stricken family being interviewed on our television screen, telling the interviewer they had no idea their daughter was so desperate for cash. I do not know why sad and frustrating things like ridiculously high university fees and extreme pressure to attend college happen in our world so regularly and without check, because obviously they are some of the main contributors pointing to the warning signs of what is happening to students who cannot afford college.
I do know I want to help make a world where the next generation of students never feels so desperate for money to pay for higher education that they would consider selling their bodies to be their only option.