#occupy everything
The Northern Front: Checking Up on Occupy CU

Illustration by Julia Stern, BC '14

Brit Byrd chats with Columbia’s (independent) branch of the Occupy movement. Find this and more in the soon-to-arrive April issue of The Blue & White.

“Nothing will grind our gears like the words ‘head of the group,’” Elliott Grieco, CC ’12, corrected me. After spending only a short time at the occupation of Tuck-It-Away Storage at 125th Street and 12th Avenue, it became clear that I had assumed a top-down leadership structure that didn’t exist. Today’s occupation site—a West Harlem step bedecked with picket signs, plastered with fliers, cluttered with musical instruments, and cordoned off by NYPD barricades—reflected this plurality of aims, motivations, and interests.

Nothing regarding Occupy CU points to an overarching agenda. Instead, one feels an intense sense of hyper-locality. As Grieco understands it, this is the Occupy movement at its most effective: “While what happens downtown at Zuccotti has a global audience, [this] enables self-empowerment at a much more local level, oftentimes implicitly asking me, ‘What can you do with your power, your position of privilege?’”

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Bwoglines: Learning A Lesson Edition
where dreams come true

Which seat can I take?

The Grammys were last night!  Adele learned you can take an awful break-up and parlay it into 6 awards, viewers learned who Bonny Bear Bon Iver is, and Nicki Minaj pissed off Italian grandmothers everywhere. (Reuters, Fox News)

Though our Occupy class never came to fruition, students at other universities are getting schooled in the Occupy movement. (USA Today)

Students learning numbers have even more job opportunities—humanities majors are learning how to more convincingly give an outward shrug while having an internal panic attack. (NY Times)

Brown learned from Harvard that when your city’s in trouble, you’ve gotta be a friend and help it out. (Bloomberg)

On a more serious note, Greece is learning that avoiding a default is a tough battle.  The passing of heavy austerity measures by the Greek Parliament led to violent riots in Athens and other cities. (CNN)

Institute of higher learning via Wikimedia Commons

Anthro “Occupy the Field” Course Not Up For Review

Yesterday, we told you that the Anthropology Department’s recently-announced class on the Occupy Wall Street movement was on the ropes. We have now received what is more or less an official confirmation of the cancellation of the course, at least for the coming semester. According to Mia Mendicino, the Coordinator for Academic Affairs at Columbia College, the course “has not been submitted to the COI for an official review,” which effectively means that the attempt has been abandoned (for now). It looks like The Man has won. But if we’ve learned anything from the OWS movement, it’s that nothing can keep the 99% down. Except maybe winter.

A-Hinks Responds To Claims Made By Occupy CU

Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson has released the following email to Barnard students commenting on last week’s Occupy CU congregation at Barnard. She writes that, “Barnard Public Safety did not lock down the campus or attempt to prevent the assembly from taking place.” This contradicts claims made by Occupy CU that a “lockdown” took place at Barnard Hall. A-Hinks’ full message below:

Dear members of the Barnard Community,

Last week, an Occupy Columbia University general assembly took place on Barnard’s campus. Contrary to some reports in the campus media, Barnard Public Safety did not lock down the campus or attempt to prevent the assembly from taking place.

For all anticipated gatherings where the number of participants is high, unknown, and/or may involve a significant number of non-members of the Barnard and Columbia community, Public Safety must take certain basic precautions, preparing for any and all who may choose to attend. Had the group contacted Barnard’s Events Management office to register the event and provide details about the anticipated participants, the College gladly would have worked with them to provide an adequate space.

When Occupy Columbia arrived on campus last Tuesday evening, Director of Public Safety Dianna Pennetti tried to identify the group’s leaders and accommodate their needs. They were not prevented from gathering on the steps of Barnard Hall but rather chose to move indoors to the lower level of the Diana Center due to the rain. Director Pennetti asked only that they not block access to walkways or entrances.
Read the rest of the email after the jump.

Occupy CU Responds to Barnard’s Lockdown

The Occupiers are getting feisty. Last night an email was sent out from their alias (which shows up as “Lee Bollinger”) to the offices of Dean Hinkson, President Spar, President Bollinger, and various contacts from Jezebel, Gawker, Gothamist, and the New York Times, demanding an explanation from the administration for the increased police presence during last week’s General Assembly. Occupy CU’s attempt to organize a meeting at Barnard was thwarted by dispersal from Public Safety, while the NYPD kept a close eye on the entrances to campus:

We demand that Barnard administrators promptly and directly respond to their serious acts of repression with an explanation. We will accept a response in writing or in person at our next Barnard General Assembly, Wednesday, November 30th, 12:00pm at our originally intended location, outside Barnard Hall. We hope that this statement and administrators’ subsequent response can begin a productive dialogue and framework under which we can discuss and express our concerns freely and be heard, not repressed.Our movement here on campus, in our community, and in our city is growing. The issues we face in this University are not independent from those of the movement at large. This is the time for meaningful change, and Occupy Columbia University welcomes all who wish to participate. An injury to one is an injury to all.

While Occupy Columbia have been making a lot of noise, it’s not clear that their numbers are growing significantly. There were only around 30 45 people at the Barnard GA, despite the overreactive security measures. Spec published an interesting piece last week on divided perspectives among students on OWS, which explores why some people care more than others. Whether the executive offices that OCU is targeting will care remains to be seen. We’ve contacted some members of the administration for comment. You can read the full email below.

Read on for full email

And They’re Off!

Occupy CU has just departed from campus to march downtown and join the student strike. The pack of students has been joined by striking employees from Verizon and students from CSUNY Albany. According to one of the organizers:

“We have the sidewalk outside gates, NYPD is here. CWA marchers have joined us in a large group! Group is getting in the subway now”

While still on-campus, the group was approached by Robert Taylor, Executive Director of Student Development and Activities, who in essence told them that they needed to become a coalition if they wanted to be able to book space (for purposes of “occupation”). Occupy CU is opposed to this, as a coalition mandates official leadership.