The Occupy Wall Street Movement is Coming to Your Campus

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In the 60’s it seemed like every group, individual or organization had an issue they were so passionate about they took to the streets to protest!

  • The woman’s equal rights movement officially kicked off in 1963 with the federal mandated “Equal Pay Act” that recognized woman as equals in the workplace
  • In 1968, over 100 cities erupted in violence. Inner cities literally burned as people demanded equality and basic human civil rights.
  • In 1969, the gay rights movement kicked off in a non-descript bar called the Stonewall Inn.  Gays, angry over continued police harassment and arrest for no reason, finally had enough, resisted, and rebelled openly in the streets.
  • In the fall of 1969 and spring of 1970, students on campuses across the country protested President Nixon’s approval of expanding the war into Cambodia.

By May, 1969 students declared their anger for the escalating war by protesting at the nearest military facility.  As a result, 30 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)  buildings went up in flames or were bombed and National Guard units were mobilized on 21 campuses in 16 states. Hundreds of campuses across the country immediately closed and sent students home.

As a freshman at Kent State University in the fall of 1970, I had an opportunity to sit in on the tail end of a dramatic year of campus protests that caught all university administrators off guard.

We continued to hold protest rallies on campus and sit in at Rockwell Hall (then the administration building).  Later I found myself jumping into the back of a 24-foot U-Haul truck heading to Washington to protest the war (which resulted in 20,000 people getting arrested). These were passionate times where people felt the only way their political leaders were going to pay attention was to take their message to the streets!

That was then!  How fed up are people today?

Occupy Wall Street is everyone’s movement

The Occupy Wall Street is now barely 45 days old and has led to demonstrations in over 600 communities in the United States and 900 in the rest of the world.

There is truly something happening here and it’s growing daily.

So what does the OWS stand for?   According to Wikipedia, “They are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, corruption and influence over government—particularly from the financial services sector—and lobbyists. The protesters’ slogan, “We are the 99%”, refers to the difference in wealth between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.”

It’s a pretty broad spectrum and definitely could include all of the groups mentioned at the beginning of this blog post.  Plus, nearly everyone can identify with some aspect of the movement’s causes.

  • If the house you bought prior to 2008 is now under water, you want someone to blame and you want relief.
  • If you are graduate that landed in the job market that tanked in 2008, you want someone to blame and you want relief.
  • If you are a retiree that saw your 401 K, stock and retirement savings vanish you want someone to blame and you want relief.
  • If you are a recently laid off worker, you want someone to blame and you want relief.
  • If you are a commuter and you pay $50 to fill up your tank, you want someone to blame and you want relief.

In a time when federal, state and local governments do not have enough tax money coming in to pay their bills, unemployment is peaking, and workers around the country are losing earning power, the collective profits of corporations are reaching into the multi trillions (with a capital T).

There is a new equality being demanded in the OWS movement. This one is FINANCIAL and it’s touching 99 percent of the population.

Discussions on campus

Your faculty and students are going to be talking about ALL of these issues in their classes.  A few students will initially get fired up and set up a table in your student union soliciting signatures for petitions, which will lead to a rally, which will lead to bigger rallies, which will lead to demands of your administration.

Your students will begin asking for:

  1. Tuition relief. Why does the cost of my tuition have to exceed the standard cost of living?
  2. Student loan relief.  How can I live the American dream when I’m paying more in students loans than I do for a car loan?
  3. Help in getting a job!  In 2007 sixty percent of grads had a job on graduation day. Today only 20 percent have a job by graduation day.  What is your campus doing differently to help this generation of graduates – and alumni?

And, when they don’t get it, they will use crowd source techniques to analyze how your campus spends money, how much everyone gets paid, and who spends the most at conferences and on junkets.  They will be demanding to know why the cost of their education is continuing to go up and hold departments and individuals accountable as examples!

What are you doing to prepare for their demands?

You can stay ahead of this train by planning right now!  Our next post will offer some ideas.  Hopefully we’ll make the post before the demands are made!

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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

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