This week is OccupyCU’s Student Week of Action. Read on for Bwog resident #Occupier Jed Bush’s report on Day Three’s speak out and Day Four’s rally and march to Union Square, the latest in our ongoing coverage of this week’s events.
Today, OccupyCU participated in a student strike in solidarity with the OWS Day of Action, whose aims were to “resist austerity, reclaim the economy, and recreate our democracy.” The day began with a “strike party” to celebrate the two-month anniversary of the movement before heading down at 2 pm to join fellow protesters at Foley Square “to show Solidarity with laborers demanding jobs to rebuild this country’s infrastructure and economy.”
Due to rain, the participants migrated from the lawn in front of Butler to Low Steps, before finally huddling underneath the awning of Low. A mini-controversy arose as the demonstrators debated over the issue of becoming a “coalition”, which would give the group the right to reserve the space—though all in attendance quickly came to the consensus that to reserve space would go against the sentiment of “Occupying” a space. The organizers did seem pleased with the administration which, while not particularly happy with the protest plopping themselves directly in front of Low, did not act against them as they waited to leave.
Upon departing, several students in the march from Columbia commented on the highly organized nature of the proceedings. Despite the large number of participants, the OccupyCU coordinators had few problems in keeping their fellow protesters together. The protest’s participants represented a large diversity of the Columbia community. While perhaps the most vocal participants were seniors, many underclassmen told Bwog this was their first time actively participating in an Occupy Wall Street protest, which speaks to the efficacy of OccupyCU’s Student Week of Action. “Going to school at Columbia,” one sophomore explained, “you can forget what’s going on in the real world. We’ve now realized that despite our own privilege as Columbia students, it’s important to show solidarity with the movement. Because education should be a right, not a privilege.”
Yesterday, OccupyCU planned for two events as part of their ongoing Student Week of Action. Due to rain, the first event, which spoke out against profiling on campus, fizzled out. Organizers were originally slated to meet at the Sundial on College Walk, only to move the rendezvous to the gazebo in front of Hamilton an hour beforehand. As far as we could tell, the second event, a planned demonstration speaking out against student debt, which had been listed as TBA on their Facebook page (and wasn’t even listed on their official Student Week of Action website), simply didn’t end up coming together at all.
At Tuesday’s Professor-Student Open Dialogue, both parties touched on issues that remain controversial, both within and outside the greater #Occupy movement. Ranging from the financial crisis, to the ever increasing commercialization of student activism and discussing radicalism, social movements, etc. as a whole, professors and students discussed many compelling issues that touch the Columbia community. Unsuprisingly, Professors had numerous reading suggestions for those who want to learn more, so we compiled a list of some of their top recommendations. Many of the following can be obtained for free:
- Inside Job—A documentary film by Charles Ferguson about the systemic corruption of the United States by the financial services industry and the consequences of that systemic corruption with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes to boot.
- Letters to a Young Activist by Todd Gitlin—Reflections on his own experiences as a student activist, and an “invit[ation] to the young activist to enter imaginatively into some of the dilemmas, moral and practical, of being a modern citizen”. If you’re interested, Gitlin is willing to give a free copy to anyone who asks.
- Capital: A Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx—Good ol’ Marx on commodities and their often-contradictory function within the economy.
- Making The Market: Specialty Coffee, Generational Pitches, and Papua New Guinea by Paige West—Looking at 3rd party certification and its impacts on producers, social movements through the lens of Coffee from Papua New Guinea.
- Essays by Michel Montaigne—Lit Hum can be radical too!
- Spent: America After Consumerism by Amitai Etzioni—A look at the economy beyond merely the dichotomy of market regulation and deregulation.
@Anonymous OMG OWS STFU
@Um “resist austerity, reclaim the economy, and recreate our democracy.”
Are you shitting me? Resisting austerity is what got Greece into the shithole that it’s in. Resisting austerity is half of what got Berlusconi kicked out. The economy is already not in tip-top shape – are these people actually supporting the very thing that might just cause an INTERNATIONAL double-dip recession?
We NEED austerity – not for the poor, but for that group which OWS continues to call “the 1%,” as well as a significant portion of households. Rejecting austerity altogether without careful thought is like rejecting a blood transfusion because you’re afraid of needles – after you’ve been shot in the chest.
And what makes you think cutting class is going to solve the economy?
@Um And just for the record, “recreate our democracy” reeks to me of McCarthyism, the idea of “Un-American activities,” and the Red Scare.
You can’t recreate something which has never been destroyed since the writing of the Constitution.
@Anonymous Austerity in social welfare provisions can be incredibly destructive for an economy in the dumps. No one is rejecting cutting government spending outright, it’s just a matter of what we cut. Military spending, for example, is still at Cold War levels. With the money the government spends on one unmanned drone, we could pay the salaries of 700 teachers for one year. The tax burden on the nation’s highest earners relative to the low and middle income earners are, proportionally speaking, at historic lows; make the tax code more progressive, and any cuts in public sector spending, obligatory or not, become much less severe.
McCarthy was a paranoid hack. The influence corporations and corporate money have in government, however, is an empirical reality.
@Virgilio Ah, the myth that the system is failing because of the (already reduced) welfare state. Check these out when you get the time:
@Anonymous I love you.
@Anonymous higher education should not be limited to merely a university degree that costs thousands of dollars. education should always aim to break any monopolization of knowledge, any monopolization of opinion or discourse within society – and for that reason alone, education should be a right. $200k degree? take it or leave it. but education? absolutley.
@Anonymous Not saying that it is a bad thought at all, but could someone calmly explain to me, morally (and/or otherwise), why education (specifically college, not high school) should be a “right” and not a “privilege”? Thanks!
@hmmm Because a person’s right to a fulfilling life, as their capacities permit, should not be surrendered in the event of their parents’ failure. Besides the indisputable moral imperative (which you question), the broader societal benefit of open educational opportunity is manifest. You want the best potential lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. — not only those that were born to the rich or sufficiently well-off (wherever the cut-off ends after universities determine how much their clientele is willing to pay). Incidentally, I find it curious that you concede the imperative of a basic high school education. Putting aside the question of whether you would concede it or not if it wasn’t already universally unquestioned, what is the justification? Why a high school education?
@hmmm Unless you find favor with the notion of a federally run daycare system, I can’t see any other justification for it besides a belief or agreement with the imperative of providing basic opportunity to all. For the basic cultivation of a vast spectrum of different aptitudes, a high school education of course simply does not in itself provide that.