Masses of protestors aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement are setting up camps in a growing number of cities nationwide. USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Viviana Bonilla Lopez reported last week that thousands of students are joining the demonstrations, especially as they erupt near a growing number of campuses.
National news reports indicate the movement is penetrating the nation’s consciousness. The awarenes stems, in part, from a rise in related media attention.
College media have joined this coverage stampede, publishing an array of news reports and providing student perspectives on the protestors’ actions and agendas.
In staff editorials and opinion columns, a majority of the perspectives being published in student newspapers at the moment praise the movement. To many college students, it seems, Occupy Wall Street is a symbol that the public’s frustration with the state of the country is real and cuts across the political divide.
“In a country that has been plagued by misguided bipartisanship, we are, and have been for many years now, in desperate need of something that surmounts party lines and quite literally brings us together,” a staff editorial notes in City on a Hill Press, the campus paper at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “And Occupy Wall Street has done just that. The sheer quantity of individuals in the mobilization shows the American people feel like there is something worth fighting for.”
A number of papers have been quick to point out that this fight is also one that is motivating students to shed their typical indifference to politics and the outside world.
“Occupy Wall Street represents the contradiction of stereotypes about American and youth apathy,” an editorial in The Hilltop at Howard University argues. “The gap between the rich and the poor is widening and the American people as a whole can no longer stand the strain. For the first time in several decades, people . . . are openly expressing and acting upon their feelings of anger, betrayal, and disappointment with the state of our union.”
Interestingly, the feelings of some economically-advantaged students and those attending more elite schools has been conflicted. In part, their internal struggle stems from a realization that they are more likely to be among “the 1 percent” being protested against than “the 99 percent” doing the protesting.
As an opinion piece headlined “Boycott Wall Street” in The Harvard Crimson confirms, “Harvard graduates . . . are more likely to be among the occupied than the occupying, representing a shameless financial industry that sent the American economy crashing without accepting any responsibility or penalty for their role in the collapse. . . . Harvard students, however, can help fight the good fight. Not everyone has the means or demeanor for radical rebellion. But rather than join the occupation of Wall Street, I suggest that Harvard seniors simply give up pursuing an occupation on Wall Street.”
While not calling for a similar all-out post-graduation boycott of Wall Street, a pair of columnists in The Columbia Spectator more simply ask Columbia University students to look at the school they attend from the perspective of the protestors. “Columbia is not immune to the criticisms of Occupy Wall Street,” the sub-headline of their opinion piece shares. As it states near the start, “Let’s not kid ourselves about how the beautiful space that is our university is paid for. Despite the tuition you are paying, the accumulated largesse of oligarchs of Manhattan continues to fund a large share of Columbia’s operations. . . . This larger fact is the background for many smaller connections between Columbia and Wall Street.”
What some students are having the toughest time connecting is a link between the Occupy movement and any type of real change. As a student columnist states in The Independent Florida Alligator at the University of Florida, “The top 1 percent currently earns 21 percent of the income and, more importantly, maintains 57 percent of the non-housing wealth. The divide is egregious, and it’s certainly worth complaining about. But that doesn’t make a good case for a revolution. Instead, it’s a problem, and in order to fix a problem, you need a solution. Try as I might, I can’t find a solution among the Occupy Wall Street movement.” The piece’s headline: “Anger is not enough to change the world.”
In a response of sorts, a student columnist for The Daily Illini writes that the movement’s purpose goes beyond bullet-point solutions. “Explicit demands from the protestors have yet to be made,” University of Illinois senior Jason Fabery writes. “But that is how things should remain. After all, the Occupy movement is not so much about timetables and short-lived political victories as it is about an inclusive, sustainable and gradual groping toward political consensus.”
What are your perspectives on the Occupy Wall Street movement? How do you think students should be involved? And what parts of the opinions published in student newspapers do you agree or disagree with?
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