Among the thousands who marched to “Liberty Plaza” last night were many students and teachers demanding drastic change. I spoke to some of them about why they came, what they want, and how they see each other. What follow are edited transcripts of conversations that took place at the October 5 march from Foley Square.
Beverly Segers, 29-year math teacher for adult students:
I have a son who’s been out of work for three years. He had one job for 14 years, and now he cannot find a job here in the United States. I’m sick of it. He’s qualified to do so many things, and he’s even reeducated himself. What does he have to do to get a job in this country?
I’m marching for the young people, the students who graduated from college but can’t get a job. I’m marching because every time we turn around it’s more budget cuts, more budget cuts. While those rich fat cats, they go to the spa.
We’re suffering in this country, and somebody has to do something. Congress won’t do anything, the Senate won’t do anything, the President won’t do anything, but we’ve got to do like we did in the ‘70s. I got arrested in the ‘70s during the Vietnam war. I’m willing to get arrested again. Because it’s worse than it was then, understand? I’m 69 years old. I’m not going to live forever.
If my students even get their GED or certificate, where are they gonna work? They ask me for job advice and it’s very frustrating. I have nothing to tell them. We used to have a job counselor a few years ago, but they were laid off too.
The students started the revolution in the ‘60s and the ‘70s with Kent State—that’s when the country woke up. This changed the world before. It’ll work again.
Tianna Strickland, college student at Manhattan School of Visual Arts:
I really love this, I’m really proud of everyone getting together for a unified cause.
I’m already 80,000 thousand dollars in debt from school, so I’m really wary about whether or not I’m going to find a job after college, and how to pay off my debt.
I really hope that this sparks a change in the government, and a change in the people. And I really hope that it sparks a revolution, that people realize that we can do something as a collective without the government’s approval, without anyone’s real approval.
I’m a fulltime student. I work four days out of the week. I pay my own rent. I pay my own school, everything by myself, and I am worried about how I’m going to pay. I’m in my last year of college and I haven’t even paid for it yet. And I’m worried about whether or not I can even graduate.
It looks really grim. It looks really sad, like I already know a bunch of my friends that have had to drop out of college because they can’t afford it anymore. I think unions being involved here is really good, because it shows that it’s not just kids or students that are being affected—it’s everyone that’s being affected. A lot of the time students don’t get taken too seriously. And so when you get students and workers involved it gets taken more seriously, and it heightens the situation in a good way.