Thursday, November 3, 2011

#OccupyChicago in the News

What role should students play in Occupy Chicago? 

Students should, and absolutely do, play a significant role in Occupy Chicago (and all the other Occupy movements).

Students have accumulated massive debt in the hopes of getting jobs which pay living wages, but are now faced with a future of debt, low paying or no jobs, and a political system which does not represent their interests or hear their voices.The way things are going for students makes the future of the economy look dim at best. Students are already defaulting on their student loan debt because of lack of employment opportunities and costs of living, and will continue to do so in rising numbers for the foreseeable future.THAT is the next housing bubble, the next economic crisis, and yet people will act surprised when it happens.

On top of the defaults, we're also seeing a generation that is being priced out of the "American Dream" because they did exactly what they were told to. We were told "go to college, get a good paying job, and everything will be fine," we did that, and now we're suffering for it. To add insult to injury, we are mocked and called lazy even as we add protesting FOR JOBS to our already full plates. For those that still don't take this movement seriously I can only warn that creating a population of young, educated, low wage people, and then mocking them for doing what was expected in the context of a down economy, will only create greater social division and unrest.

Also, the number 30 or 40, mentioned in this article, was likely an estimate of Columbia students, not students altogether. The protest had up to 500 people yesterday, after only two days of planning, and a large number of those people were students. I'm a student at Columbia, and with Ryan Nanni, mentioned in the article, I have helped to start an unofficial Columbia College student group which has about 50 official members so far. Columbia is just one of many colleges across the city with an Occupy student group, we are planning to increase student involvement in the movement, put the skills and resources available at the different colleges to bear in support of the movement, and collaborate between colleges to strengthen and sustain the movement.

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