Occupy Mac–learn more today!

By leewana Thomas

September 17, 2011 will go down in history as the day hundreds of protesters began their Occupation of Zucotti Park in New York’s Wall Street District. By mid-October, there were over 600 solidarity protests in the United States, and several hundred more internationally. Dedicated organizers provided initial momentum, activists who had been silent for years came out of hiding, and most importantly, brand new voices felt the problem was real enough that they needed to speak up. But what was/is their uniting force? What are the Occupiers really protesting? And, dare we ask, what are they demanding? Early on, it seemed that everyone involved in the protests was united by a feeling that our economy does not function in a way that is fair or right, but it was difficult for an outsider to instantly see what they meant by that. I would argue that this showed the true grassroots nature of the Occupy movement—it wasn’t a group of followers with goals conveniently prescribed by a few leaders. But as Cornel West has said, “It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening.” And that’s just it: we’re not just trying to get a new policy enacted, or get someone elected. We’re talking about systemic change, because the system is broken. We’re talking about continuing the dialogue. This is explicitly what the Occupiers are protesting: inequality in this country is at a ridiculous level. Corporate profits are near an all-time high, as is the unemployment rate. The average CEO to worker pay ratio is 475:1. Students often forget that we are training to enter this work force, and we are going to have to do so with more crippling debt than any previous generation. We are the first group of children in the United States preparing to live under worse conditions than our parents. It is inspiring to see students taking part in these protests because it reminds us that democracy isn’t just something we study and theorize about. We have been taking part in active democracy on behalf of ourselves and the rest of the 99% of the United States that is fed up with a system that favors a few and tramples on everyone else. To join the conversation, come to the OccupyMac Informational Session this Friday, November 4th in Weyerhauser Chapel from 3:30-4:30 p.m.. Presenters will provide a brief synopsis of the history and development of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Representatives from the OccupyMN including involved Macalester students will speak about their participation and answer questions afterward. The details of OccupyMac’s first General Assembly will also be announced and interested attendees will be asked to form a steering committee to develop future actions. Afterward, join us for an optional trip to the OccupyMN site for a Student Unity/Rally March! Come see what democracy looks like when it is put into action.