It's a scary and exciting time to be a college student in the United States -- often for the same reasons. We're living in a time of societal uprisings and social change that, in many ways, parallels the electric culture of the 1960s revolutions -- equal rights legislation, wartime and questioning the role of our government. At the heart of all these forms of civil unrest is one major similarity: relevant protesting.
Most recently is the Occupy Wall Street movement, a protest that originated in New York City and has now spread to more than 900 cities nationwide in an effort to challenge the economic status quo and the degree of influence Wall Street has over our government. The main goal is to relay the message that 99 percent of America is being controlled by the elite 1 percent of Americans.
Occupy College, born out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is similar in its fundamental purpose but differs in the sense that the majority of participants are college students located on their respective campuses. Students on more than 100 campuses nationwide walked out of their classrooms at noon last week in protest of rising student loan debt, increasing college costs and a feeble job market.
Our generation has for once silenced the critics who incessantly cast us off as unapologetically apathetic. Thomas Friedman labeled us "Generation Q for quiet" in a 2007 New York Times column and "Generation Limbo" in an August 2011 feature. Participating students in the Occupy College protests achieved something that our generation lacked until this point: a visible presence within a significant social movement.
Now that college students have caught the mainstream media's attention, what do we do with it?
Students shouldn't think of Occupy College as a single day's worth of protesting -- this nascent activism needs to be further explored. The most effective way to accomplish a cohesive social movement around the issues supported by Occupy College is not just to act and mobilize, but also to stay organized and think critically throughout the entire process.
Katrina vanden Huevel, editor of The Nation magazine, provided her own insight on this topic at Syracuse last week, the night before Occupy College took place. "There is a thin line between anger and passion. This is a moment that calls for anger. There's something mobilizing about anger and about passion -- and in this era, in this political moment, it's mobilization we need fused with big and risky ideas."
Given the current economic climate, students are rightfully angry, but I question how effective the Occupy College protests were. There weren't any main objectives established, and, in turn, there weren't any successful goals achieved. But as a movement, Occupy College has a hell of a lot of potential. Transforming this into an actual movement is just a matter of outlining goals. It's also critical to recognize the ways in which to go about achieving these goals and targeting the right people in charge.
The general public needs to be well versed in the key issues for which Occupy College is fighting. It's important to go about relaying these messages and achieving said goals in the most effective ways possible.
People are fired up, and mainstream media outlets are finally reporting on the outrage that fills our generation. It's important to take advantage of this moment in history and continue to organize with a more focused direction. Activism is about determining goals and moving people capable of creating those changes. Now that Occupy College has succeeded in acquiring both an online and physical presence, we can't let our anger burn.
This post originally appeared in The Daily Orange.