Why You Need to Be Part of the Occupy Movement Now

By | October 14th, 2011 | Buzz Blog, Ithaca, News & Views

Photo by Alyssa Figueroa

I remember in the Spring of 2010 when a few other students and I met in an empty classroom to talk about the low wages Ithaca College’s dining service workers were receiving. About six people showed up regularly to our meetings back then. By the time we became the Labor Initiative in Promoting Solidarity and had a protest in Spring 2011 on campus, nearly 50 students joined in the march on-campus to downtown, where we were greeted by nearly 100 community supporters. It was remarkable — LIPS was truly grateful to have such support. Yet, when I saw my peers rally at Free Speech Rock in the culminating protest — students I had never seen before — I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where were you when we needed you?” Where were all the students when we needed them to speak to workers, do research and organize initiatives around the most glaring injustice on campus? Why did they only show up for the action-packed rally at the end?

Movements grow, naturally. Of course, there will always be fewer people at the start of a movement, as members try to raise awareness and recruit others. However, I did not understand why, when students became aware of the living wage campaign — which many were — they did not immediately jump on board. LIPS did countless hours of legwork, and then students joined in the glory near the end.

Today, as I reflect on the Occupy Ithaca College rally, I see similarities. Students are aware of the Occupy Wall St. protests; many were also aware of the rally yesterday. This Occupy movement, which calls for stepping up, taking back your community and utilizing the power of the people, is a crucial development. For me, it is the only thing worth thinking about, discussing and being a part of. I know college students are busy, but every club they are in, every job they have to work, every time they stress out over homework or simply get angry about how busy they are — it all comes back to Occupying Ithaca College, Occupying Ithaca and Occupying Wall Street. All of the eggs are in this basket.

If you are aware of the movement and support the movement, you must be with the movement now. You must help with the legwork. Do not just come take part in a lively action and then fail to come to the Ithaca College General Assembly on campus this Tuesday. Do not scream about injustices for an hour one afternoon and then disregard attending the Occupy Ithaca General Assembly meetings with the community downtown. Do not sit in class rolling your eyes at students who will “accomplish nothing” by walking out and then come out to the big rally at the end when these students prove to you they can accomplish something.

This is the case for several students I spoke to who refused to walk out — they did not believe the movement would bring about any change. Perhaps it won’t. There has been a strong tendency in this world for a lack of true change, and therefore, it “makes sense” for nothing to come of this. Just like LIPS’s fight for a living wage — it didn’t “make sense” for Sodexo, a multinational corporation, to lower their profits in order to pay their workers a better wage at Ithaca College. (After all, that’s what business is about.) But, perhaps, if we take a leap of faith, change may be possible. Although a fight for a living wage is far less difficult and complex than a fight for a new societal system, the only way we may see change, perhaps, is by believing in a miracle. Plus, the only way the Occupy movement can start making those clear, concrete demands people are criticizing it for lacking, is to get every one together to talk about what makes them angry in their daily lives and ways we can change that. Be a part of that discussion.

Yesterday, some students walked out of class risking an absence, risking missing work, and risking the critical judgment of professors or fellow students, all in order to stand in solidarity with their peers. Down by Wall Street, protestors are risking getting pepper-sprayed, arrested and beaten to help those who have been affected by Wall Street (nearly everyone in this country). In Egypt, people risked death (and 846 people actually died) to get rid of a dictator and have a more democratic society. You have to join the others that are risking for you now.

Inaction is a form of action. You are either there with this movement or you are not there with this movement. The time is now to let yourself hope. We may well lose the battle, but if we win, you do not want to have to ask yourself, “Where was I when they needed me?”

Check out all of Buzzsaw‘s coverage of the Occupy Movement:
+ Ithaca Residents Join in Solidarity with ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement
+ Local #Occupy Movement: Open Meeting in Dewitt Park
+ Inside the Occupy Ithaca College Walkout and General Assembly of Ithaca
+ Why You Need to Be a Part of the Occupy Movement Now
+ The Occupy Movement Hits Binghamton
+ Occupy Ithaca College General Assembly Kicks Off
+ Conversations in Zucotti Park

    Buzzsaw Also Recommends:
  • Occupy Ithaca College General Assembly Kicks Off by Gena Mangiaratti (October 19, 2011)
  • Ithaca Residents Join in Solidarity with ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement by Gena Mangiaratti (October 6, 2011)
  • Inside the Occupy Ithaca College Walkout & Ithaca General Assembly by Gena Mangiaratti (October 14, 2011)
  • Local #Occupy Wall Street: Open Meeting in Dewitt Park by Gena Mangiaratti (October 11, 2011)
  • There’s a Revolution in This Town by Gena Mangiaratti (February 13, 2012)
  • 3 Comments on “Why You Need to Be Part of the Occupy Movement Now”

    1. August

      It should be noted that Sodexo is hardly feeling the effects of the wage increase, because the cost of nearly every food item at Ithaca College has gone up. This is what corporations do. “Oh, so you want better wages, sure thing. We’ll raise the price on our product so the cost of doing that type of business is simply reabsorbed by you – the consumer.”

      Look at what Bank of America recently did. BoA implemented a $5 dollar fee on all debit cards. Seems small, sure, but the fact of the matter is, when the federal government told BoA that they had to limit the charge they issued on business for small transactions, million of regular Americans picked up the bill. Not one stockholder will feel that hit.

    2. Kevin Michels

      The last line of your article seems to suggest that if change occurs, those not involved in the movement, or those who only become involved at the end (those who you refer to as joining in on the glory) will not or should not deserve to see the results of said change.

      This attitude is part the reason that a lot of students or individuals don’t become more involved. Masquerading under the facade of human rights, it’s evident you care just as much about the glory and recognition. The protest signs at your spirit parade might as well say ‘ME! ME! ME!’

      There are several reasons that a lot of us haven’t jumped on this protest bandwagon.

      Some of us are jaded. We always hear our parents/teachers/elders go on and on about how when they were younger they were hanging from the rafters of congress. And yet in the midst of all this protesting and yelling we still somehow ended up in this mess.
      Some of us see the movement for what it really is- and that is, to steal a line from a recent cracked.com article (3 Types of Wall Street Protesters Hurting Their Own Cause) , “an inkblot test for everyone’s personal social/political gripes.” The occupy movement is to disenfranchised liberals as the tea party movement is to disenfranchised conservatives. Except now they’re going after the 1% instead of Obama. Corporate greed has become the new scapegoat. Which is ironic when one witnesses 200 Urban Outfitter/J. Crew clad protesters complaining about corporate greed.
      Some of us think that we can spend our time better elsewhere. As much as anyone, most of us want more government oversight and protection. And sure we’d like to see some of the higher ups get what’s coming to them. But rather than jump on and play the blame game like everyone else we understand that lasting change not only requires legislative change but also attitude change. Anyone with conservative parents/relatives/friends can surely attest that clever poster-boards are not enough to change the minds of our FoxNews loving associates. Belief change comes through compassionate, empathetic, and reasoned discussion and dialogue, not through shouting witticisms through a megaphone. Some of that involves building community support through advocacy, outreach, and charitable programs that touch all social and ideological classes. Some of it involves just talking to the other half, reasoning with them. It should be noted, belief change and compromise is a two way street.

      Regardless of the outcome from these demonstrations, all of us will need to be a part of the rebuilding process if we want a better future. Divisive and alienating speech, such as that portrayed by the tone of this article, is no better than the blatant party politics which are blocking any real progress.

      I think it’s great that people are speaking their mind. But don’t be so quick to judge the silent ones. Some of us are trying to listen, to analyze, to make informed decisions, to carefully chose our battles, so that we can create rational, logical, and reasonable change so that we never have to ride this economic roller-coaster again.

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