Boston activist says tax the rich, no apologies to Dad
By Evan Lips | November 12, 2015, 21:47 EST
BOSTON – Northeastern University undergraduate Keely Mullen, the social-justice activist who spearheaded a series of marches Wednesday as part of a movement demanding free public college education, cancellation of student debt and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers, told Fox News in an interview that “America’s 1 percent” should fund the students’ demands.
The interview with host Neil Cavuto came as more than 200 students at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst rallied as part of Thursday’s “Million Student March” at the school’s Student Union, according to the Springfield-based news site MassLive.
Below, a transcript of Cavuto’s interview with Mullen:
MULLEN: The Million Student March is a movement for a more equitable and fair system of education as opposed to the really corporate model that we have right now. So the three core demands of the national day of action are free public college, a cancellation of student debt and a $15 an hour minimum wage for people who work on campus.
CAVUTO: How’s that going to be paid?
MULLEN: Great question. ..I mean, I’m not sure if you’re talking about on a national level or at particular schools, but I can sort of touch on both…
CAVUTO: Well, you want all that stuff. Someone has to pick up the tab. Who would that be?
MULLEN: The 1 percent of people in society that are hoarding the wealth and really sort of causing the catastrophe students are facing, I mean we have a relationship right now where the 1 percent of the population owns more wealth than the 99 percent combined….
CAVUTO: Alright, Keely, so if the 1 percent just had their taxes raised a few years ago back to almost 40 percent, then to pay for the healthcare law had them raised another few percentage points, then they had their deductions raised another couple points depending on the state or locality — they’re pushing about 50 percent in taxes — how much higher do you think, how much more do you think they should pay?
MULLEN: I think enough to where we have a system to where not one-in-two American families are not threatened by poverty.
CAVUTO: So where do they go? Let’s say if you tax these folks — they’re smart people, these 1 percent hoarders — so if they leave here, who’s going to pay for all this stuff that you want?
MULLEN: If they leave?
CAVUTO: The country.
MULLEN: Oh… I mean there’s always going to be a 1 percent in the U.S. The U.S. is like the bastion of capitalism and success.
CAVUTO: Do you think the 1 percent could pay for all of this?
MULLEN: Absolutely, 85 people in the world hold more wealth than half of the global population.
Students who may share Mullen’s views have a key supporter in Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. senator from Vermont. On Wednesday, Sanders took to Twitter to express his solidarity with Million Student March participants:
If we could bail out Wall Street, we can make sure every American has access to public colleges regardless of income. #MillionStudentMarch
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 12, 2015
Mullen on Thursday participated in New York City march rather than events in Boston.
In an interview with MarketWatch, Mullen, who is in her fourth year at Northeastern, said she expects to owe about $150,000 on student loans when she graduates.
Mullen’s online profile at Shiftgig says she graduated from Francis W. Parker High School in Chicago. According to the Francis W. Parker School website, it offers kindergarten through 12th grade classes for which tuition tops out at $34,560.
Assessor records show that Mullen’s family has a home on West Wabansia Avenue in Chicago’s north side that carries a value of $989,990. According to BlockShopper, the student’s father, Steven Mullen, paid a little more than $1 million for the home in 2005.
Steve Mullen has posted numerous photos to his Facebook page showing his participation at Chicago’s Million Student March. In one post, Mullen notes that his daughter helped launch the Million Student March initiative:
“This is a movement that my daughter Keely has initiated along with one of her fellow student colleagues. They are gaining traction in what promises to be the next national crisis. We need to demand a serious discussion of what we plan to do re: the cost of education in order to give these young people entering life a fair shot. Please spread the word!”
In another post, Mullen responds to a friend who questions why his daughter attends such an expensive university:
“She includes her personal situation only as one illustration. The larger point has to do with the corporatization of higher ed, the lack of a national commitment to help with education, and the ‘special projects’ that tuition money is going to fund. Much of their tuition goes into institutional spending that has nothing to do with teachers salaries or directly affects the learning that is going on.”
Steve Mullen lectures on art and technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He lists in his biography a musical background and notes he co-wrote classic rocker Eddie Money’s hit song “Endless Nights.” He lists a bevy of Fortune 500 clients, including American Airlines, Walt Disney Co., Exxon-Mobil, Reebok and McDonald’s.
“Mullen identifies as trans-feminine and “gender-mobile,” prefers “they/them” pronouns, and works to be an ear and an advocate for the wide diversity of student identities at SAIC,” his bio states.
He didn’t immediately respond to a message left on his home answering machine.