Occupy Colleges Movement Sparks Protests on 150 Campuses Occupy Colleges Movement Sparks Protests on 150 Campuses
Education

Occupy Colleges Movement Sparks Protests on 150 Campuses

by Liz Dwyer

October 16, 2011

In one of the most widespread campus protests in recent memory, students at 150 colleges and universities across the country rallied in front of student unions and administration buildings Thursday as part of the Occupy Colleges movement. The demonstrations were inspired by and supportive of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests, but students are also speaking out against the high cost of college and the lack of opportunities for graduates.

"Around the country, more and more high school students are foregoing a college education because their families can no longer afford it," Occupy Colleges organizers wrote on the group's Facebook page. "So many more are graduating with inconceivable amounts of debt and stepping into the worst job market in decades. They take unpaid internships that go nowhere and soon can’t pay college loans."

In response, students at 150 colleges registered on the Occupy Colleges website indicating that protests would take place on their campus. While some private schools—including Howard University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Stanford—registered as participants, the majority of schools on the participant list are public state universities.

That's no surprise given that billions have been cut from higher education over the past three years, leading to wait lists for classes that are thousands of students long, particularly in California. On top of that, approximately 150,000 California students were turned away from community colleges last year because of cuts. With a 12.1 percent unemployment rate—the second-highest in the nation—and employers adding a mere 11,000 net jobs this year, California students in particular are feeling the jobless pinch, so it's not surprising that more than 20 percent of the colleges participating in Occupy Colleges are in the Golden State.

Indeed, the movement's founders are two UCLA graduates, a California State University Northridge student, and a student at a California community college. They started Occupy Colleges two weeks ago, and the movement quickly spread through social networks. Although their Facebook page initially told students "Do not go to school," the organizers have since changed their messaging to make it clear that they aren't anti-education. So instead of a constant sit-in on campus like at Zuccotti Park, Occupy Colleges events are scheduled to take place once every two weeks. According to the group's Twitter feed, up next is a teach-in to better educate students about what's happening at Occupy Wall Street. 

Photo via OccupySMC

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Occupy Colleges Movement Sparks Protests on 150 Campuses