Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NYC to UI: Occupy Wall Street movement comes to campus

Lindsey Treffry | The Argonaut

Voices boomed over a loudspeaker outside the Idaho Commons as a crowd held up signs for economic reform.

A local branch of Occupy Wall Street, a mass protest movement against “corporate greed and corrupt politics,” gathered at the University of Idaho and students picketed from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday before marching downtown to join forces with Occupy Moscow in Friendship Square.

Sarah Sundquist, a landscape architecture major and Occupy Moscow member, helped form the Occupy UI group and handed out fliers to inform students prior to the event.

“Basically, Occupy Wall Street started by a group of people that saw that the system of government was not working as is,” Sundquist said. “(One) of the main goals is to … just make it so that corporations are not involved in politics because as it is right now, basically whoever has the most money wins elections.”

Sundquist has been meeting with the Occupy Moscow group for two weeks now. She said there seemed to be a disconnect between the campus and the rest of the Moscow community.

“A lot of people are still just unaware of what this movement is,” Sundquist said.
Another Occupy Moscow member, Raleigh Blum said during a general assembly for the Occupy Moscow group members set up a student outreach committee to get them interested in the movement. Blum said the movement is essential for economic reform.

“It’s hard to get a job right now,” Blum said. “Jobs are being outsourced and cut.”

Blum also said students are graduating with degrees, yet don’t get degree-specific jobs.

Overall, Sundquist said the movement is different for every member.
“There are some things there seems to be a consensus on …  the economy is one right now,” Sundquist said. 

Katelyn Taylor, a UI political science major, attended Occupy UI and wasn’t previously involved in Occupy events. 

“I’m scared my voice will no longer be valid no matter how hard I work,” Taylor said to Occupy UI attendees and bystanders over the microphone.

Fliers at the event also promoted “Bank Transfer Day,” which endorses the movement of funds from major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions Nov. 5 as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Taylor said Occupy UI prompted her to take money out of bank accounts in order to “stick it to the man.”

“Our ability to create situations (like Occupy Wall Street) is what our government — our democracy — should be about,” Taylor said.

A voter registration table was also set up at Occupy UI.

“Students can be involved in their democracy and we as a group have the power to do that,” Sundquist said.

Blum said Occupy Wall Street has had a hard time convincing people to join the movement. “This movement is happening in 82 countries worldwide,” Blum said.

Sundquist said a date is not set for another Occupy UI event, but students can attend Occupy Moscow pickets every day from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in Friendship Square. 

“Generally it’s just important to note that even though main stream media portrays this movement as being kind of a bunch of hippies playing on bongo drums, it’s really not,” Sundquist said. “Everyone who has been coming in our group is a full-time student or works full time … It’s a really diverse group of people. I kind of just want to encourage people to not look at the stereotypes, and think of what is important to them and how the system is working for them.”

As seen in the Oct. 21 issue of The Argonaut.

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