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Campus-oriented news, first-person reports from student activists and journalists about their campus.

Harvard Joins the Occupy Movement

This release was issued this morning by Occupy Harvard.

At 10:30 pm on November 9, hundreds of Harvard students and affiliates put down tents to begin an occupation of Harvard Yard. Currently, thirty tents occupy the Yard in solidarity with the global Occupy movement. Earlier Wednesday, around 800 Harvard students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in a rally, general assembly, and march to Occupy Harvard. Harvard is a diverse community that includes both the 1% and the 99%; we occupy here in solidarity with the global Occupy movement and with Occupy Boston.

We are Occupy Harvard. We want a university for the 99%, not a corporation for the 1%.

We are here in solidarity with the Occupy movement to protest the corporatization of higher education, epitomized by Harvard University.

We see injustice in the 180:1 ratio between the compensation of Harvard’s highest-paid employee—the head of internal investments at Harvard Management Company—and the lowest-paid employee, an entry-level custodial worker. We see injustice in Harvard’s adoption of corporate efficiency measures such as job outsourcing. We see injustice in African land grabs that displace local farmers and devastate the environment. We see injustice in Harvard’s investment in private equity firms such as HEI Hotels and Resorts, which profits off the backbreaking labor of a non-union immigrant workforce. We see injustice in Harvard’s lack of financial transparency and its prevention of student and community voice in these investments.

We stand in solidarity with Occupy Boston and the other occupations throughout the country. We stand in solidarity with students at other universities who suffer crushing debt burdens and insufficient resources. We stand in solidarity with the students who occupied Massachusetts Hall one decade ago, and we continue their pursuit of justice for workers. We stand in solidarity with all those in Boston and beyond who clamor for equity. We are the 99%.

A university for the 99% must settle a just contract with Harvard’s custodial workers. A university for the 99% must adopt a new transparency policy, including disclosure of Harvard’s current investments as well as a commitment to not reinvest in HEI Hotels & Resorts or in land-grabbing hedge funds like Emergent Asset Management. Further,

  • A university for the 99% would offer academic opportunities to assess responses to socioeconomic inequality outside the scope of mainstream economics.

  • A university for the 99% would implement debt relief for students who suffer from excessive loan burdens.

  • A university for the 99% would commit to increasing the diversity of Harvard’s graduate school faculty and students.

  • A university for the 99% would end the privilege enjoyed by legacies in the Harvard admissions process.

  • A university for the 99% would implement a policy requiring faculty to declare conflicts of interest.

Our statement of principles is subject to change by the Occupy Harvard General Assemblies.

OWS Influences Dissent at Connecticut College

This article was originally published in Connecticut College's College Voice.

Now in its sixth week of action, the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained momentum across the globe, in local communities and on college campuses. Focused mainly on protesting social and economic inequity, corporate greed and the impact of finances on government, occupiers span across race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status and location.

Students at Connecticut College have protested both on Wall Street and in New London in solidarity with the movement, and have even formed a group on campus called CC Dissent. According to its Facebook page, the group is “an autonomous student organization dedicated to identifying, analyzing and confronting structures of power in our society. Through student-developed programs and discussions on and off campus, CC Dissent is exploring and reinforcing intersectional communities of activism among Conn students, faculty, staff, New Londoners and NESCAC schools. We are developing teach-ins, live ins, trips and weekly discussions, as well as partnering with Occupy New London to support the protests occurring daily downtown.”

The group uses measures and tactics that mirror those used on Wall Street, including General Assemblies, where committees discuss their thoughts and needs without a formal leadership component, as well as “stack lists,” in which protesters can voice their opinions. Typically, people who are traditionally underrepresented, including women and minorities, are prioritized in the stacks.

According to Eliza Bryant ’12 who is an organizer for CC Dissent, “We recognize the imperfections of a representative democracy and seek to avoid reproducing them in the way that we govern ourselves.”

In addition to protesting, CC Dissent held a dialogue in Coffee Grounds on October 19, discussing ideas for the future of the movement on campus. Using “temperature checks” the moderators of the group were able to gauge how students and faculty felt about ideas, including a campus march, a photo project, returning to New York City and joining forces with other NESCAC schools.

One of the major points of discussions at the dialogue was on the concept of the 99%, which has become something of a mantra for Occupy Wall Street. Professor Ed McKenna from the Economics Department argued that, “if you look at what’s happened with the distribution of income from the past 15 years, what you’ll discover is virtually all income gains that have taken place have gone to the top 1%. In fact, most of the gains have gone to the top one tenth percent of that one percent. So I think what it’s referring to is that, even though there’s been some growth in the economy, it’s going to a very tiny slice of the population. That is not sustainable, societies can’t thrive if everything goes to a tiny percentage.”

Many of the ideas discussed in the dialogue have come to fruition, including occupying New London and supporting the local movement, and beginning to organize students to return to New York City on November 5, which is Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes, as portrayed in the comic book V for Vendetta and later in the 2006 movie, inspires the overthrow of a future totalitarian society. The sinister mask Fawkes wears has become iconic in the movement.

“Our next steps as a group are to organizing fundraising events and teach-ins and discussions on campus as well as a permanent occupation of some place on campus, Zuccotti Park-style. We want to start making a big splash. Stay tuned for a Latin American food night in Coffee Grounds and for an event series featuring panel discussions with professors about OWS as well as documentaries regarding the current state of our society and government,” Bryant said.

CC Dissent also recently appealed to Connecticut College’s SGA at Open Forum on October 27, bringing along over fifteen supporters, including a professor, staff members and New London residents.

According to a member of SGA, CC Dissent wants SGA to sign a letter of support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, following the example of multiple peer institutions. Several community members voiced opposition to the letter, stating that Occupy Wall Street demonizes the financial services industry. The CC Dissenters were quick to assure, however, that the intention of the movement was not to demonize the financial sector.

After a short discussion during open forum about how best to address this question, including voting support, holding a student referendum and excluding SGA participation, the group ultimately decided to vote on the measure next week, so that Senators and other SGA members could gather information and viewpoints from their constituents.

According to Bryant, “Personally, I’m not sure if we will get support from either because that would entail the college making a political statement that, if publicized, could affect the school’s reputation. Obviously, support for the movement is not good publicity in everyone’s opinion.”

“Although the movement is gaining traction and generating a following on campus that is difficult to dismiss, it would not be in the wisest interests of our administration to directly endorse Occupy Wall Street,” said Devin Cohen ’12. “Any academic institution should be obliged to maintain a strict sense of objectivity toward any and all political issues. It is not place of Connecticut College to advocate one political view over another, or align itself as an academic institution with any particular political persuasion.”

However, Cohen is not quick to dimiss the legitimacy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and believes that while Conn shouldn’t outright support the movement, it does need to be recognized. “It is still the responsibility of the administration to recognize and protect all political beliefs of the student population. As an establishment that prides itself on the production of free thinkers, any decision not to acknowledge Occupy Wall Street as a legitimate movement and ensure that members have the capacity to peaceably assemble and demonstrate would be wrought with inconsistency, and to a greater extent, didactic hypocrisy.”

Beyond the Connecticut College campus, occupiers around the United States and across the globe have suffered as a result of their political opinions. In Oakland, California, police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse unarmed protesters who had built a camp in a downtown plaza. Among those critically injured in Oakland was a Marine veteran named Scott Olsen, who has become iconic in the region for his activism.

And in China, the government has banned the word “Occupy” as a search term on the Internet, fearing that its citizens will adopt the movement, which has quickly spread around the world through the use of social media.

Occupy Patriotism

A patriot, as defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary, is “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Definition number two is “an automated surface-to-air missile designed for preemptive strikes.”

Such definitions explain why the notion of patriotism is anathema to many progressives. The jingoistic version of patriotism has, of course, been deployed throughout American history to galvanize Americans around war, traditional cultural values and the oppression of minorities.

So as soon as Occupy Wall Street captured the attention of the world, it is no surprise that the right leaped to label it anti-American. Talk to young protestors down at Zuccotti Park, however, and you’ll find a crop of zealous patriots born from the movement itself.

“I think the very act of being down here is an act of patriotism in itself,” says Lindsay, a 24-year-old who works at a non-profit. “It’s being committed to what this country looks like.” She says she’s been disappointed by activist communities in the past, but that the inclusive structure of OWS has inspired in her a newfound patriotism, tied to the belief that this movement really can “move the country forward.”

Megan Hafner, 23, graduated in June and moved to New York in search of meaningful work. She says she didn’t used to feel so proud of her country. “Growing up in the Bush years, it was a very stifling time to be a child,” she laughs.

She’s found in this horizontal, cooperative movement the impetus to work towards becoming a better person herself as she works to better her country. It’s about “holding the community I’m living with accountable....Being committed to a place, I want to fight for it to become better just as I want to become better myself.”
 
For Hafner, this feeling of pride in her community is new, too. “I think this is the first time I’m really feeling jazzed about connecting with Americans,” she says.
 
Occupier Robert James Carlson had three jobs in Minnesota before dropping them to come see what OWS was all about. He has been sleeping in Zuccotti for nearly a month and a half, and has carved out a job for himself doing “outreach” work. He walks around the city with a sign that reads “I could lose my job for having a voice,” in order to spur debate in the wider community.
 
Carlson says the message and potential of this movement have completely altered his feelings about his country. “This is the proudest I’ve ever been of America in the 25 years of my life,” he says.
 
An older Occupy supporter who spoke to The Nation noted that there is a difference between the patriotism of these young occupiers and that of the last significant left social movement. William Hyde, an actor, writer and carpenter who “make[s] money here and there,” was part of the anti-Vietnam era and moved here from California to participate in this generation’s movement. What differentiates OWS, he says, is that its form of patriotism is more inclusive. “The movement in the 60s alienated working class America, and it was dead by the early 70s. This movement does everything it can possibly do to embrace the working class.”

Regardless, some are still uncomfortable with the word “patriotism.” Mike Griffiths is a 21-year-old college student from Wisconsin who took the semester off to come occupy. He’s been camping out since the beginning and works translating the OWS Journal into Spanish. “I don’t know what I think about patriotism,” he says, with skeptical look. “I think we should work on redefining that.” He’d rather focus on solidarity with the international movement, not identifying with a particular group of people. “How about us being patriotic to the human race?” he suggests.
 
Whether occupiers feel they are being patriotic dissidents or patriotic towards the human race, they are undertaking a thorough reappropriation and redefinition of the term. In essence, they are occupying the very concept of patriotism itself.

Hafner believes the very “antithesis of patriotism” is failing to question what ‘patriotism’ itself means. She rejects “throwing around” easy sound bites, calling them “stamps and signals and indicators that you don’t have to try to understand or break down.” Hyde agrees. He says those who are truly anti-American are the one percent in government and business who are radically redistributing wealth upwards, away from the needs of the 99 percent. “You have a government that wraps itself in the flag that really acts un-American...This movement is trying to reclaim its government, reclaim its flag.”

Literally.

Gabriel Johnson, a 19-year-old student at Rutgers Newark, was among the crowd at the General Assembly last Friday. He was grinning and waving an American flag. Johnson says he came down to the park on September 17th, the official start date of OWS, and has been toting the red, white and blue around ever since. He says he’s bought about fifteen flags from the vendor at Zuccotti. “I’ve been [his] one-man stimulus program,” he says.

Nation Interns Choose the Week's Most Important Stories (11/4)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out most everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week, and please use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

Angela Aiuto
Angela focuses on money in politics.

We Can’t Have Corporate Accountability Until We Have Corporate Identifiers,” by Kaitlin Lee. Sunlight Foundation, November 1, 2011.

The Sunlight Foundation’s Kaitlin Lee highlights a little discussed problem: the lack of a reliable mechanism to identify parent corporations and their subsidiaries. Six Degrees of Corporations, the foundation’s new microsite, includes a handy visualization demonstrating the difficulty in linking these entities, as well as an overview of alternative identifier systems.

Cal Colgan
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.

Anonymous Acts are a Key Feature of Mexico,” by Deborah Bonello, Guardian, November 1, 2011.

Earlier this week, hackers claiming to be members of Anonymous launched an online attack against collaborators with the Zetas drug cartel. In a video widely circulated over YouTube, an alleged Anonymous member wearing a Guy Fawkes mask claimed that one of the international hacktivist network’s members was kidnapped by Zetas in the state of Veracruz, and that the group will begin to publicize the names and contact information of Zetas and the journalists and politicians sympathetic to them if their compatriot isn’t released by Friday. This news analysis piece touches on the supposed upcoming cyber attacks on the drug traffickers, but it also touches on much broader concept: the role of anonymity in Mexico’s drug war. After all, with all of the killings of “clean” police officers, journalists, bloggers and rival gang members, the only thing that seems to protect the players in the drug war—and civilians, for that matter—from almost certain death is lack of public exposure and the avoidance of exposing others. For if Anonymous is indeed intending to expose Zetas and their collaborators, it might only be a matter of time before even more hackers are caught in the crossfire.

Teresa Cotsirilos
Teresa focuses on “global South” politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.

Raucous Trial is a Test of Haiti’s Legal System,” by Walt Bogdanich and Deborah Sontag. New York Times, October 21, 2011.

In 2010, a collection of Haitian police officers and prison guards gunned down unarmed inmates at a prison in the small city of Les Cayes—then tried to cover it up by burying them in an unmarked mass grave outside the prison yard. Now, thirteen alleged participants in the massacre are being tried by a judge in a local community theater. In a country where the police force is known to behave with impunity, the trial is viewed as a historical landmark in Haiti’s attempts to reinstate rule of law.

Paolo Cravero
Paolo follows war, peace and security.

Al-Qaida Targets Somalia Drought Victims with Cash Handouts,” by Jamal Osman. Guardian, November 1, 2011.

A brief but crucial piece for understanding how the militarization of politics will not solve conflicts. Al-Qaeda affiliates are pre-emptively adopting microcredit development strategies to “win hearts-and-minds” in Somalia, while US- and UK-friendly Kenya bombards (by mistake) an IDP camp. Maybe is time to rethink anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency strategies.

Erika Eichelberger
Erika follows the environmental beat.

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Who’s behind the ‘information attacks’ on climate scientists?” by Sue Sturgis. The Institute for Southern Studies, October 31, 2011.

A recent investigative report by the Institute for Southern Studies details the story behind the lawsuits that the American Tradition Institute, a Koch-backed climate-denying think tank, has filed against award-winning climate scientists Michael Mann and NASA’s James Hansen. An effort to obtain personal e-mails and documents to determine whether scientists have manipulated climate data or violated ethics law, these attacks are part of a growing trend of using FOIA requests to target academics for political purposes, according to the report. In a hearing in on Tuesday, Mann successfully fought off ATI’s attempt to gain access to his e-mails, but this story does raise the question of where the line should be drawn between the need to respect freedom of information laws to hold public officials accountable, and the need to protect academic freedom and First Amendment rights from politically motivated attacks.

Josh Eidelson
Josh covers the labor beat.

Alabama Immigration Law May Soon Test Union Solidarity,” by Mike Elk. In These Times, November 2, 2011.

Alabama’s new far-right anti-immigrant law forbids public utility companies to provide services to undocumented immigrants. Mike Elk notes that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a union whose members will be charged by law with cutting off immigrants’ power, is declining to speak up on the issue. Meanwhile, thousands of Alabama poultry workers—most of them Latino—have engaged in wildcat strikes in protest of the law. Elk asks how labor will—or won’t—address the issue, and what it will mean for the relationship between immigrants and the institutions of the labor movement.

Eli Epstein-Deutsch
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.

The Revolt of the Debtors,” by Daniel Gros. Project Syndicate, November 3, 2011.

An interesting take on the ongoing Euro-debt crisis, by Daniel Gros at Project Syndicate—on the occasion of Greece’s Prime Minister holding a national referendum over the “comprehensive solution” agreed to by the EU. Illuminated here are the contradictions between the Enlightenment notion of governance by “sovereign” people, and the contemporary European ideal of fiscal and political union, which are coming more and more to the forefront during recent attempts to salvage the euro.

Collier Meyerson
Collier’s beat is discrimination.

Our Negroes and Theirs: When Ann Coulter Tells the Truth, It’s Worth Listening to Her,” by Corey Robin. CoreyRobin.com, November 1, 2011.

In her defense of Herman Cain against recent sexual harassment allegations on The Sean Hannity Show, Ann Coulter blurted: “Our [conservative] blacks are so much better than their [liberal] blacks.” In a response posted on his website yesterday, professor and author Corey Robin acknowledges Coulter’s racism but is more interested in the “deep truth about conservatism” her remarks reveal. Without actually altering a thing, conservative have managed to rely on a select few “outsiders” to serve as a smokescreen as a way to bolster their roguish, motley crew–esque spirit and appear diverse. This raises the question: is Herman Cain the new Clarence Thomas?

Allie Tempus:
Allie follows human rights.

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners,” by Michael Grabell. ProPublica, November 1, 2011.

While much of the media attention on the TSA’s strict security measures has centered on privacy, ProPublica and PBS present the first in-depth investigation on the health hazards of the new airport X-ray scanners. According to their investigation, not only are the scanners not regulated by the FDA (as others are) but the TSA failed to seek required public input to install them, and it continues to use them despite access to safer technology. When faced with a choice between potentially hazardous radiation exposure or an invasive pat-down, US fliers are forced into a situation they didn’t ask for and aren’t protected from.

Jin Zhao
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.

The Global Reserve Army of Labor and the New Imperialism,” by John Bellamy Foster, Robert W. McChesney, and R. Jamil Jonna. The Monthly Review, November 2011.

As the Occupy movement moves forward beyond the United States, a question remains to be answered: What is at root of the global 1 percent and 99 percent divide? The authors of this article revisit Marx’s theory about the global reserve army of labor and argue that the growth the the global capitalist labor force, including the available reserve army, not only has radically altered the position of labor in developing countries but also has stagnated or reduced wage levels and increased unemployment in rich economies.

OWS@TNS: Bringing Occupy Wall Street into the Classroom

This article was originally published in The New School's online publication, New_S.

As the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement continued to draw national attention and sympathetic demonstrations around the country and across the globe, a group of New School faculty and students saw an opportunity to bring the energy of the streets into the classroom. With coordination by members of the University Student and Faculty Senates and others, The New School hosted an Occupy Wall Street teach-in, a full day of presentations, working groups, and informal gatherings, on Saturday, October 22. With the dual mission of exploring this movement’s roots and thinking about its future, the teach-in provided what New School President David Van Zandt called “an opportunity to explore questions of inequality and access with peers from across the university.”

“Many of us have been actively involved in OWS from the outset, so bringing it to the university felt like a natural next step,” said Bronwyn Lewis, a student senator representing The New School for Public Engagement, where she is enrolled in the New School Bachelor’s Program. “We had already been talking about presenting an OWS panel when Dean David Scobey suggested that we coordinate with the Faculty Senate to plan a broader event.”

Activists, New School students and faculty members, journalists, and curious neighbors came to 66 West 12th Street for discussions such as “Why Did the Arab Spring Happen and How Can It Be Linked to OWS?,” “The Media and OWS,” and “Police Brutality and OWS.” The Nomadic University, a new initiative that sees the OWS movement as an opportunity to press for radical reforms in U.S. higher education, presented “The University and OWS.”

“AS a member of the Faculty Senate, I aimed to identify how the university can engage with these events in a way that allows us to learn about and from them,” said professor Ted Byfield, associate director of communication design and technology at Parsons. “We don’t know where the Occupy movement will be in a year, or two, or five, but we do know that The New School will be here—and we’re seeking to adopt the best aspects of what’s happening. That means fostering open forums of communication and organization, and creating events and environments that emphasize diversity and collaboration.”

Faculty discussion leaders and organizers included Heather Chaplin and Marco Deseriis from Eugene Lang College and Jeff Goldfarb and Elzbieta Matynia from The New School for Social Research. The director of advising at Eugene Lang College, Leah Weich, is leading an ongoing working group that seeks to articulate the demands of the movement.

Many participants agreed that The New School, with its tradition of outspoken dialogue and free debate, is the ideal site for an OWS teach-in. “The New School is a place that protects and defends free speech through open discussions around politics, economics, and society at large,” said Liz Hynes, who works in the Eugene Lang College dean’s office and who played a central role in planning this event. “We have already had a few discussions for a spring teach-in and what that might look like. Let’s hope this momentum keeps up through the winter.”

Meeting Offers Syracuse Students Chance to Learn About Occupy Movement

This article was originally published in the Daily Orange and is reposted here with perimission.

Occupy Syracuse and Occupy College participants have been lacking high numbers of involved Syracuse students in relation to the total university population, so Orange, it's officially time to step up your game.

The Women's and Gender Studies Department is hosting a discussion and teach-in Nov. 10 at 11:00 a.m. titled "Feminism and the 99 Percent Movement." The event will take place in the Atrium Lounge on the third floor of Sims Hall. I'll be co-facilitating the discussion with another WGS student. I encourage students to attend this discussion. It's important for SU students to start getting involved in the Occupy movement and to talk about the most effective ways to go about contributing our own voices and experiences to this sociopolitical movement.

There are plenty of reasons why you should come out and support the Women's and Gender Studies Department, the Occupy movement and me on November 10.

For starters, everyone else is doing it. Following the success of two separately organized protests and walkouts at colleges and universities nationwide, 68 schools have signed up on OccupyCollege.org to participate in the National Student Solidarity Teach-ins on November 2 and 3. Syracuse University has remained absent from all three forms of activism thus far — but it's better late than never.

This is a chance to offer your perspective. If you're not happy with the way Occupy Wall Street and Occupy College have operated thus far, this discussion is your chance to talk about, and change, it. The movement has been criticized for excluding different races and genders. The only way to make it more inclusive is for all students from different social locations to lend their thoughts and ideas for progress.

Be a part of something bigger than over-studying for your exam the next day or spending valuable time talking about the demise of Kim Kardashian's 72-day marriage. Not to discredit the importance of grades, but one test or paper will be just a fleeting moment in your life, whereas a discussion about feminism and Occupy Wall Street has the potential to stick. And as for the Kardashian-Humphries saga, get your mind out of the gutter and start talking about important issues.

Plus, I'm bringing special brownies — special in the sense that I seldom bake or do anything in the kitchen. Take advantage of this momentous occasion by stopping by and at least humoring my baking skills and pleasing your taste buds.

Countless students talk about the myriad issues facing our country and our age group specifically, but it's time to stop talking and take action. The Occupy Wall Street movement embodies a social movement that is — generally speaking — representative of our generation's sentiments. If you've tweeted about the Occupy movement, debated with friends and made comments on Facebook statuses, it's probably time for you to turn those smaller conversations into larger discussion.

Krystie Yandoli is a senior women and gender studies and English and textual studies major. Her column appears every Wednesday. She can be reached at klyandol@syr.edu or followed on Twitter at @KrystieLYandoli.

Harvard Students to Walk Out on Mankiw

As reported today by Business Insider, Harvard students are planning to walk out of economist Gregory Mankiw's Econ 10 class on tomorrow, Wednesday, November 2, to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

A prominent adherent of Milton Friedman, Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush and the author of a leading economics textbook, has been critical of the Occupy Wall Street protests on his blog — and a student email cites his "biased instruction matter" as a reason for the walk-out.

Check out this Facebook page for more info.

Occupy Bowdoin Kicks Off

This article was originally published in the Bowdoin Orient.

The international Occupy Wall Street movement hit the College Tuesday night when posters advertising "Occupy Bowdoin" appeared in Smith Union. Robbie Benson '15 is the self-proclaimed "kid behind the posters," the driving force for a group that he hopes will heighten discussion about social class and socioeconomic inequality at the College.

The signs bear phrases such as "PUT PEOPLE OVER PROFIT—Occupy Bowdoin: Join the Peaceful Revolution," and list occupybowdoin@gmail.com as a point of contact for more information.

Since the first protest on September 17 in New York City, the "Occupy" movement has spread to over 900 cities around the world. It has been described as a revolt against the chasm of social and economic inequality in America that divides the 1 percent of wealthiest Americans from the other 99 percent.

Benson said the Occupy Bowdoin startup was "incredibly impromptu," sparked by a Tuesday discussion with peers over lunch. "We asked ourselves why Bowdoin wasn't more involved in what we saw as a defining moment in political history," said Benson. By yesterday afternoon, he said the group's email account had received inquiries from over 30 students.

Benson plans to hold an open forum soon to discuss what about the "Occupy" movement most affects students, and to shape the direction of the organization. He said they also will discuss what to tangibly demand from administrators. "Over its history, Bowdoin has been committed to its Common Good...if it wants to follow through with its commitment, it should open its eyes to what's happening," he said. "I don't think we are going to be occupying Hubbard Hall any time soon," said Benson. "I'm just trying to get as many people involved as possible."

Along with facilitating discourse, he expressed interest in organizing a student outing to join larger movements like Occupy Boston. "I went to Occupy Boston over Columbus Day weekend and found the students and professors protesting both articulate and passionate," he said. Professor of Gender and Women's Studies Kristen Ghodsee reached Benson after contacting the Occupy Bowdoin Gmail account advertised on the posters. "Anything that breaks Bowdoin students out of their bubble has got to be a good thing," she said. "We tend to focus on race and gender and religion and disability, and class issues often get swept under the rug." Ghodsee said she was curious to see how the movement would take shape on campus. "If a bunch of Bowdoin students just hang out on the Quad what does that accomplish?" she said. "I'm not sure what there is to be accomplished, other than showing that they are paying attention to what is happening at the national level."

Nonetheless, she mentioned the necessity of young people questioning the status quo. "I understand that for a lot of young people, apathy is cool, it's a posture...but it hides people's anxieties about" entering the job market after graduation, said Ghodsee. "Is this the world that we want to be a part of?"

Many students voiced interest in Occupy Bowdoin's effort to catalyze discussion of socioeconomic differences. "I think it's a wonderful idea. I know that at Bowdoin we're trying to become more socioeconomically diverse, but it's not that easy to do. I'd like to know what ideas people have about it," said Amy Schweitzer '14.

Nonetheless, some students doubt the "Occupy" movement's efficiency in enacting change. "I wouldn't join [Occupy Bowdoin] for the same reasons I wouldn't join Occupy Wall Street; my time could be better spent elsewhere," said Lewis. Salas '13. "The targets should be policy makers, not Wall Street brokers."

According to The Nation's "Extra Credit" blog, over 10,000 students have protested in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in the last three weeks alone. Occupy Colleges is an offshoot movement organized for students in protest of high tuition bills and a lack of job opportunities after graduation.

One hundred and forty campuses participated in their October 13 "National Student Solidarity Protest," but Bowdoin was not involved. On November 2 and 3, Occupy Colleges will stage student-initiated "National Solidarity Teach-Ins" at campuses around the country.

The aim of the teach-in is to continue this dialogue on campuses, with collaboration between professors, students, and community members. "This is exactly the type of thing we are looking to bring to Bowdoin," said Benson.

Environmental Youth Leaders Take Washington

This article was originally published on the website of the invaluable PowerShift.org and is reposted here with permission.

Last week, thirty-five of the best and brightest young leaders descended upon the nation’s capitol to deliver the grassroots demands and action that we’ve been organizing for months. From leading campaigns to move campuses beyond coal, to mobilizing against the Keystone XL pipeline, and hosting training and strategy sessions at our regional Power Shift conferences, these young people are leading in the grassroots, but last week they came to DC to be heard. And heard they were.

The first stop was a meeting with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to thank her for her leadership, and show our support for her continuing to lead on critical matters of the mercury ruling and the Keystone XL pipeline. In a packed room on Howard University’s campus, we had a frank discussion on the state of public health, and the challenges we face in protecting it. Tayla Tavor from Michigan shared how she was diagnosed with asthma when she was 3-years old, and now finds herself at Michigan State University fighting to retire the largest on-campus coal plant in the country, which continues to threaten her and her peers’ health.

Administrator Jackson shared our concerns about the impacts of dirty energy. "It's so important that your voices are heard, that campuses that are supposed to be teaching people aren't meanwhile polluting the surrounding community with mercury and costing the children a few IQ points because of the need to generate power. It's simply not fair," Jackson said. And she didn’t mince words about some of the challenges she faces in protecting the American people from big polluters. She slammed the GOP for putting the interests of the coal industry ahead of those of the American people.

Despite it all, when Maura Friedman, a student at University of Georgia, spoke about how Georgia has 13 coal plants (including one on UGA’s campus) and her concern for her reproductive health, Administrator Jackson confirmed that new public health precautions were in the pipeline, and in particular that her administration was committed to finalizing the new mercury ruling by December 16th (currently there are no limits to how much mercury a coal plant can emit).

And on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, we confirmed a major development; Administrator Jackson confirmed that her EPA would be weighing in on the contentious Keystone XL pipeline and it’s faulty Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). When asked about it, she said they would definitely make a statement, because after all, in her words “the pipeline will literally cut our country in half.”

After this very productive meeting with Administrator Jackson, it was time to take our demands and plans to another very important place: the White House. For the last couple of months we’ve been making our voices heard and our power felt across the country. More than 1200 people partook in civil disobedience at the White House, rallies are greeting President Obama at campaign stops across the country, and hundreds are visiting OFA offices (last weekend in Cleveland, 400 people from Midwest Power Shift paid them a visit). But now we had an opportunity to bring our voices and power directly into the White House.

So once again we filed through the gates of the White House for a very serious sit-down with White House staff. The Keystone XL pipeline decision is in President Obama’s hands, and his hands alone, so we weren’t there expecting to hear a “Yes” or “No” on the pipeline from his staff. We were there to talk about our organizing efforts, make sure they knew that there was an unprecedented wave of energy sweeping the country on this issue, and that our movement is committed to stopping the pipeline.

Jarymar Arana, a young woman from Texas kicked-off the discussion on Keystone XL with the White House. In 2008 she helped turn out the youth vote for Obama on her campus, but now she’s fighting to make sure he doesn’t approve the pipeline that would rip through her community and threaten her family. She shared how, after waiting in line for 12 hours to testify at a State Department hearing on Keystone XL a month ago, she’s afraid that her comments might not matter due to the massive conflict of interests and corruption beyond the pipeline proceedings. So she’s committed to keep organizing until her voice is heard, until this pipeline is stopped.

Going around the big oval table, we continued to hear incredible stories of struggle and organizing. Students sitting-in at MSU to demand the largest on-campus coal plant closes, young people and community members in Mossville, LA taking environmental crimes to international criminal court, students in Virginia building a statewide movement for clean energy solutions. What more could we do? From my vantage point, we’re doing a lot right. We heard from the folks we were meeting with that our stories and organizing would be “taken directly to the top.”

One piece of feedback that we heard that we were receptive to is that our senators and representatives need to hear from us too. And I totally agree. But Sasha from Pittsburgh said it best: “we’ve organized lobby visits, we’ve organized townhalls, and we’ve built big coalitions. When we put pressure on Congress on the climate bill, we needed President Obama to be with us and he wasn’t there. And in this case with Keystone XL we don’t need Congress, it is President Obama’s decision.”

Last week we went inside the White House to make it clear that we’re not going away, that we’re going to keep organizing from the grassroots to bring in a clean energy economy and stop Keystone XL. And this weekend we’ll surround the White House to show President Obama that right now he has the support to stand up to big polluters and reject the pipeline - Will he seize it?

10 Ideas to Change the World

Every American generation is defined by the policy battles that shape it: the New Deal, the Great Society, the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terrorism. How will we be defined?

In the midst of the Great Recession our Congress remains gridlocked, held hostage by ideological struggles and the influence of corporate money. We are desperately in need of new ideas to carry this country forward; towards a new economy, a new approach to national defense, affordable and equitable education, a stronger, more flexible social safety net, and a new energy infrastructure that can keep our country competitive in the twenty-first century. Where will these ideas come from? They’re going to come from our Generation and we all have a part to play.

That's where the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network comes in. Founded in 2006 by students across the country who were frustrated that their ideas were not playing an active role in the national political dialogue.  Founded by students, for students, the Campus Network promotes a new form of progressive activism: grassroots policymaking. We give our students the tools and resources to generate impact in their communities and provide a platform to express their ideas on the national stage.

Our national publication, the 10Ideas series, is a key piece of that platform. Every year, each of our six policy centers publishes a journal that highlights the best student ideas for progressive change. We work with each author to promote their ideas in policy forums at the local, state, and national level, connecting them to the top progressive organizations and taking their ideas to the halls of Congress. This year, the New York City staff will recognize the top 10 ideas submission from each policy center by bringing the authors to New York City in January to participate in a writing workshop and meet with leading progressive thinkers to share their ideas for change.

You can register for ‘Intent to Submit’ by November 1 and the Campus Network will provide resources to help you build your idea. The deadline for all submissions is December 1. Get info here. We hope you'll take this opportunity to make your voice heard.

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