Today promises to be a shot in the arm to the student involvement in the growing ‘occupy’ movement that is spreading across the nation. As many as 140 colleges nationwide and thousands of students are expected to participate in walkouts, protests, and occupations at 4:30 p.m., eastern time, as a part of a national student solidarity protest with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The action is coordinated by “Occupy Colleges” (occupycolleges.org), which aims to draw national attention to the fact that many more students are graduating with inconceivable amounts of debt and stepping into the worst job market in decades.
Many students take unpaid internships that they say go nowhere and soon can’t pay college loans.
“Our goal is to bring much needed attention to the Occupy Wall Street Movement,” says occupycolleges.org. “We represent students who share these fears and support Occupy Wall Street.”
Some students have taken action in the days leading up to Oct. 13. Two hundred at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst targeted the Bank of America. The bank is planning to raise fees it charges for use of debit cards. Students pointed out that the Bank of America has raked in billions in profits this year.
Coming as they do while thousands occupy financial districts all over the country, student leaders hope that the student movement will eventually rival the one that existed in this country some 40 years ago.
In 1970, hundreds of thousands of students came out, for example, and demonstrated at almost 1000 campuses across the country. The biggest student strike in U.S..history started that year in reaction to the decision by then-President Richard Nixon to invade Cambodia.
During those actions the National Guard opened fire on peaceful demonstrators at Kent State University, in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. Millions marched to protest the killings.
Organizers are already claiming that the current series of actions by students will be the largest since the ones that occurred in those days.
It was events less than ten days ago, on Oct. 5, however, that really got many thinking about resurrecting a massive student protest movement. Students from over 100 campuses around the nation walked out of classes in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In New York a thousand students marched from New York University through the streets of Manhattan and joined a rally of Occupy Wall Street supporters and union members.
Students are facing sever economic problems that are helping fuel the anger that seems to be channeling into a revived mass movement.
One student from Northeastern University put it this way: “We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to an education industry that continues to mimic the irresponsible, unaccountable, and unethical financial practices of Wall Street. University presidents make $500,000 or more for doing so, campus workers are paid poverty wages and students graduate with outrageous amounts of student debt, in a hostile economic climate, with few job opportunities.”
With the national student debt looming at around a trillion dollars, even surpassing the national credit card debt, and the top schools in the country charging up to $40,000 a year for enrollment, the desperation of the student population is more than understandable. Students who are $100,000 dollars in debt or more are struggling to make monthly payments and the job market they are facing is abysmal.
While the mainstream media and those with a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo are trying to play down the occupy movement and those involved, supporters of the students see actions on the campuses and the occupations as a beginning of a new millennium – one where students join workers and others in taking a more direct approach to fixing the economy and restoring democracy.
Supporters can watch the actions live on ustream as they happen this afternoon and evening.
Photo: Students occupying San Francisco State University, via occupycolleges.org.