College Students On Occupy Wall Street: Why We Are -- Or Are Not -- Occupying
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The Occupy Wall Street has taken the nation by storm, inevitably transfixing students at hundreds of college campuses across America. As the Huffington Post's Amanda Fairbanks reported:
Occupy Colleges, which started as a Facebook page and Twitter handle less than two weeks ago, has quickly blossomed into a burgeoning movement bolstered by a groundswell of student-led support. As of Thursday morning [Oct. 13], student organizers at 136 college campuses -- from Sarah Lawrence College to Boise State University to San Diego City College -- have pledged to participate in Thursday's show of solidarity.
"Around the country, more and more high school students are foregoing a college education because their families can no longer afford it. So many more are graduating with inconceivable amounts of debt and stepping into the worse job market in decades," reads a statement on Occupy Colleges' website. "They take unpaid internships that go nowhere and soon can't pay college loans. We represent students who share these fears and support Occupy Wall Street."
However, many students are opting not to participate in the movement. Below, seven students share their reasoning for abstaining from the protests, while one gives his stirring reason for participating in the occupation.
Have you participated in an Occupy Wall Street protest? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section.
The Opportunity Cost of Occupy Wall Street
I did not walk out [of class] with my classmates for one simple reason: the irony would just have been too much. Here are these people, complaining that they are being screwed over by the economy and by the top percent for making horrible economic decisions. Yet my economic decision to walk out would have been pretty bad in itself. I currently pay (rather, my parents assist me in paying) a tuition of about $54,000 a year. If I take eight classes per year (the norm at my college) that means each class is costing me $6,750 per semester. If I have two classes a week from September to December, and then subtract some for holidays, I'll probably have about 30 official classes. That means that each class costs $225! That's a lot of money to lose out on in a week, or even more. Granted, I haven't taken into account room and board costs, but the point of those very costs are to allow me to attend these classes. To walk out of my $225 class seems like a preposterous economic decision, especially when one takes into account the value I'm getting out of the class -- a better education, a better understanding of complex issues, and a better chance of graduating with a college degree and with good marks. As an economist would say, the opportunity cost is just too high. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurence-pevsner/the-opportunity-cost-of-o_b_1023712.html" target="_hplink">--Laurence Pevsner, Amherst College</a>
Occupy Wall Street -- For What?
A few friends who attended a rally over a recent weekend told me that they "went to hang out with other friends" or that they "got dragged to it" or that they "thought it was the cool thing to do." Not one of them could define the overall goal of the movement. That lack of clarity, of a clear sense of mission, gives me pause and is what is keeping me from actively participating in OWS and its associated movement here in Lancaster, PA. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-diggs/occupy-wall-street-for-wh_1_b_1023716.html" target="_hplink">--Robert Diggs, Franklin and Marshall</a>
Do Not Occupy Wall Street
Participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement is not a productive way for college students to effect change. What they should do is study to be the people who will take over Wall Street in the future. Once they hold those positions of power, they must remember the lessons learned from this movement to assure that they do not fall victims to the lure of money and power that corruption can bring. As Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." So Wall Street occupiers, I ask you this: are your actions reflecting the change you wish to see in Wall Street? Because I can let you in on a little secret: you aren't the first people to go from Wall Street to the slammer. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erica-hernandez/do-not-occupy-wall-street_b_1023720.html" target="_hplink">--Erica Hernandez, University of Florida</a>
Big On Emotion, Low On Action
The Occupiers say they want a clear distinction between people and corporations, but they offer no suggestions on how this can be done. They expect job creation through public works and claim that "the government could easily create enough jobs," but fail to explore the economic effects artificial job creation would have. They decry political leaders for "ignoring the parts of [the United States Constitution] that are inconvenient to their political goals," but make no effort to elaborate on the parts of the constitution being ignored. So much of the world is responding in perplexity - what are you trying to say? The movement is buried in rhetoric, and seems to be expecting simple solutions to complex problems. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meghan-frick/big-on-emotion-low-on-act_b_1023722.html" target="_hplink">--Meghan Frick, Appalachian State</a>
The Economics of Occupy Wall Street
Look, I'm a broke college student, and I am fully aware that there are exceptionally wealthy Americans. But here's the kicker: that doesn't hurt me. And it doesn't hurt you either. Economics is not a zero sum game. That means the success of one person does not cause the demise of another, both can succeed in a free market. Bill Gates has a big fat slice of the economic pie, and according to OWS economics that shrinks my piece. But in the real world, he made the entire pie larger, so my share can be bigger too. --Will Simpson, University of Arkansas
The Disappointing Sheen of Occupy Wall Street
Social media broke my connection with the occupiers. The homemade signs that danced across my Twitter, GoogleReader and Google+ feeds and left me feeling that the group was incapable of producing anything beyond a labyrinth of tents and sleeping bags. Instead of revolutionaries who understood the cause of and believed in a specific fix for their grievances, I saw a mass of upsets more interested in complaining with the group than creating tangible changes for the systems that failed them. I wanted to hear propositions of how America could improve from the people willing to lead us there but all I heard was a whine of dissatisfaction. I was crushed. I want a revolution. I want to see change; long-lasting and deeply resonating. I heard people saying the system had screwed them over. I heard voices talking about the necessary shifts in society that could be achieved if all the occupation effort were put into action. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilary-hurst/the-disappointing-sheen-o_b_1023744.html" target="_hplink">--Hilary Hurst, Brigham Young University</a>
Our Predecessors Would Be Ashamed
There's enough stress in our lives right now with classes, midterms and worrying about getting a job. You now want to participate in a demonstration that is angering most of the country's controlling conservatives? That's just plain dumb. A wise woman once told me college is 90% the life skills you learn outside of the classroom. It's the all-nighters and the parties. The learning how you function as an adult. So why add the stress of the country on top of this seemingly insurmountable pile of personal stress? Call me misinformed, but I'm trying to pass Calc I -- not worry about the country's problems on a day-to-day basis. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-johnson/our-predecessors-would-be_b_1023755.html" target="_hplink">--Jessica Johnson, University of Alabama</a>
Why I Occupy
The real benefit of the Occupy movement is the freedom of discourse that has now entered the American conversation. Occupy Wall Street was the culmination of many years of frustration, but it's not the first time these problems have been identified. No, the Occupy movement is the realization that others see the problems too. For the first time ever, the anarchist is talking to the anti-Fed guy; the soccer mom with three kids is talking to the college student inspired by Malcolm X. There is a revolution of conversation occurring, and the people who always felt there was something wrong with the system are now coming together and talking about it. And that is huge. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tarif-ahmed/why-i-occupy_b_1023766.html" target="_hplink">--Tarif Ahmed, Boston University</a>
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