Occupy TCNJ members want to be a voice for the “99%,” while bringing political awareness to campus

The protest movement that swept across the globe has made its way to TCNJ’s campus.

After a small group of TCNJ students participated in the National Student Walkout Day—a demonstration organized by the Occupy Wall Street offshoot “Occupy Colleges”—on October 5, an Occupy TCNJ group quickly formed. Though its membership numbers are small, the group hopes to bring major issues such as high tuition and income inequality to the forefront of campus discussion, say several of its members.

Senior John Cherney taking part in the Occupy TCNJ protest of a Goldman Sachs recruiting event held on campus last November. Photo (c) Vicki Wang '15

Occupy TCNJ “developed naturally” and “democratically” following the October walkout, said Melissa Radzimski, a junior English and film double major. “There aren’t any identifiable leaders. All decisions are made democratically.”

The group sponsored two events in its first semester on campus. A student-led “American Revolution: Forum on Occupy Wall Street,” held on November 2 to discuss issues of inequality, corporate control, and justice, drew “a diverse crowd of students and faculty, many of whom participated in the spirited discussion,” said George Boff, senior political science and psychology double major.

One week later, a small group of Occupy members waved signs and chanted outside the Social Sciences Building to protest the on-campus presence of recruiters from the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.

The goals of the Occupy TCNJ group members are varied. Student members who consider what they’re doing part of the larger worldwide Occupy movement say they believe in the importance of greater equality in income and educational opportunity.

“In an ideal world… students would not graduate mired in debt, and governments would operate independent of corporate influence,” said Boff. “There wouldn’t be any need for an Occupy movement. If the political structure was operating as it theoretically should, there would be no need for protests or police crackdowns.”

But members of Occupy TCNJ are also interested in bringing more “political awareness” to students at the College, said junior English major Brandon Barney. Getting more students involved in political action on a campus where, at least according to some in the group, political engagement and awareness have long been lacking, is an important part of Occupy TCNJ’s mission.

In line with that, the group arranged a December 12 bus trip, open to all TCNJ students, to the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City.

“When we engaged students for discussion about the Occupy movement, many were uninformed,” said Barney. “We are welcoming to all opinions, and all are welcome at our general assemblies. We wish to represent the views of all the ‘99%.’”

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