Occupy Colleges: Students Walk Out of College Classes in Protest
Occupy Tampa. Photo credit to Shanna Gillette of Sasha Rae Photo via Flickr under the Creative Commons license.
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
October 07, 2011
On October 5, students from at least 100 colleges across the country walked out of their classrooms at noon, according to The Huffington Post.
This signaled the start to a series of student protests concerning the rising cost of tuition, increase in student debt figures and a failing job market. According to Occupy Colleges’ Facebook page, the student activist group will be determining if and when another classroom walkout will be scheduled.
Occupy Colleges was spawned by Occupy Wall Street, an ongoing series of demonstrations that began in New York City on September 17 and have hence spread throughout the entire country. Occupy Wall Street activists are working against the “greed and corruption” of the wealthiest 1% of the country and asking for more economic equality for the 99% of the population that is working through student debt, credit card debt and mortgage problems, according to occupywallst.org.
Since September 17, Occupy Wall Street has remained consistent in NYC and spread throughout the country to at least 803 other cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, states occupywallst.org.
The Occupy Colleges inaugural protests were a huge success, as noted by the many Facebook photos and videos showcasing the walkouts on college campuses across the country. As of Wednesday morning, 75 colleges were officially registered for the event but it is believed that many more participated.
And while the classroom walkouts pointed to student solidarity on each individual campus, it also displayed cohesiveness on a national scale too, which was evidenced by a student at Santa Monica Community College. Though he was the only one at his school to participate in Occupy Colleges, he was touted as a hero on the Facebook page.
Occupy Wall Street protests have grown increasingly violent, due in large part to some police brutality, and whether or not this brutality was provoked on the part of the protestors is unclear. Arrests have been made as well. However, Occupy Colleges was a peaceful stand against the current state of affairs in higher education. In fact, there were many professors at participating colleges who very much supported the point that students are trying to make.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Shamus Khan, a professor at Columbia University, stated, “There’s this broad sense of alienation among this generation, both in terms of how they’re going to get jobs and where the direction of the nation is headed…There’s this generational collective anxiety of where they belong in the world and where the world is headed. They don’t feel secure in the world they’re about to inherit."
And one student at SUNY in New Paltz said she was walking out in support of her professors. In her interview with Bloomberg’s Businessweek, she said she “walked out of an American literature class to show support for some of her professors who she said have had their workloads increased because of budget cuts.”
At Fastweb, we will be monitoring Occupy Colleges’ Facebook page for updates on when the next Student Solidarity March will occur and will publish new dates to this article.
UPDATE: The next Occupy Colleges Student Solidarity March will take place on Thursday, October 13 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Click here for more info.