USC students join Occupy LA protest

At least 20 students plan to take part in the Occupy Los Angeles protest on Saturday.

Navtej Singh, director of special projects for College Democrats, is organizing a group to attend the rally. He said at least 15 students attended the rally with him last Saturday.

Camping in · Occupy Los Angeles organizers have said about 700 protesters sleep on the lawn in front of City Hall Downtown each night. - Matthew Wunderlich | Daily Trojan

“College Democrats isn’t sponsoring the event in particular, but we wanted people to give people a way to attend,” Singh said.

College Democrats also plans to hold an Occupy USC rally in front of Tommy Trojan Monday at noon.

Alexandra Howland, a junior majoring in international relations and fine arts, said she has taken an active role in the movement because she was taken with the cause.

“The cause is always something I’ve always been very passionate about, but had not really known that it was a real tangible thing that people were talking about,” Howland said. “I’ve always been sort of an activist, always been very outspoken in political issues.”

College Democrats Membership Director Alex Van Roekel attended an Occupy L.A. rally Saturday with fellow club members.

“There were nine or 10 of us,” said Van Roekel, a junior majoring in political science and economics. “We just decided to check it out and show our support.”

While some students attend the protests to bring attention to the cause, Howland is doing more. She focuses on sustainable living teaching at the protests so protestors can stay for extended periods of time by helping to start gardens to grow food.

“The occupation itself is a sort of a claim of land,” Howland said. “We’re here, we want change. We’re not going anywhere — we’re setting up for months.”

Howland also works to help educate protesters. She brought professors from other universities to the protests to educate people about the reasons behind the movement.

Howland credits her International Relations classes for giving her background information on the movement, but was motivated by political ideals.

“My IR classes have definitely helped me know the factual side of things, like the federal reserve,” Howland said. “IR has definitely helped, but it isn’t the reason why I’m doing this — it’s just something I’m passionate about.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began Sept. 17 in New York City, lead to the Occupy L.A. movement and other protests and rallies in major cities around country and world.

Occupy Wall Street’s website says the movement is “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”

“[Protesters in the Occupy movement want to] make people uncomfortable and to let them know we’re here, and what’s happening is not acceptable,” Howland said. “We’re no longer accepting how they’re treating us and what they’re turning our country into.”

Howland said the issues the movement addresses are especially relevant to students.

“It affects us more than anyone,” Howland said. “Students these days are graduating with an equivalent of a mortgage in debt, and there are no jobs for them when they graduate. Our generation is so apathetic about everything, which is one of our biggest downfalls, and this is finally an opportunity to end that and our false consciousness about what’s going on.”

The movement leaders have said Occupy protests are non-partisan, although many recognize it has predominately liberal ideals and goals.

“In a way, it’s a liberal response to the Tea Party,” Van Roekel said. “It’s just people tired of not getting their fair share.”

A desire for an ongoing movement has kept Howland from starting an “Occupy USC,” she said. Howland said she was interested in seeing a committed, long-term group of protesters.

“A lot of times, especially in L.A., things tend to be a trend. I don’t want like the Woodstock experience,” Howland said. “It sort of feels like Woodstock, but it’s a global revolution.”

Some find the Occupy movement protesters to be meritless because they lack demands, but Howland said demands can often restrict this type of protest.

“We’re not [making] demands because creating demands and a list of things is asking someone with greater authority to change for us,” Howland said. “Of course there’s always going to be a governmental leader, but there needs to be a sort of equality [in the process].”

Participants, however, are quick to recognize that, without demands, the movement will not be able to sustain itself.

“It’s definitely a hindrance to not have any specific demands, but in a way, it’s why it became a worldwide movement,” Van Roekel said. “Eventually it’s going to need to start filing itself down.”

For now, Howland has no intention of giving up anytime soon.

“[Students] are so apathetic and so unaware, and some people are just thinking about new technology or what’s happening over the weekend, or football games.” Howland said. “It’s such a big movement and to not be a part of it is such a waste.”

4 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Occupy Wall Street is one of the most ridiculous protest movements in American history. Seriously – go on youtube right now and look at some of the interviews people have done with the OWS protesters – the message is completely incoherent. Their phrase “we are the 99%” is actually quite apt because 99% of these activists don’t have the slightest clue what they are even protesting.

  2. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    This “occupy” protest is quite misguided. The financial services industry can only function according tot the rules voted on by your Congress. If you dont like the banking system then you should be protesting in front of the Capitol Building. Congress passed the laws that allowed the financial meltdown tomhappen, and greedy folks who could not afford the home they were purchasing want a bailout. When will you folks realize that government should not bail you out because of your poor decision making? Why arent you folks protesting in front of the White House? Our President has done a terrible job so far. Spent ,ore money than all Presidents combined and wants to spend more. Where is the money going to come from? It doesn’t grow on trees.

  3. Christopher Ganiere
    Christopher Ganiere says:

    I know that there is an urge of young people to join a cause that is greater than themselves, but is the “Occupy” cause greater than the individual students? Is the point of the protesters bigger than USC? Thus far the “Occupy” events are populated with a wide variety of people with very different goals, but they all have one thing in common – free time. For USC students there are many on campus and off campus activities that area a better use of time.

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