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Protests move to college campuses

Published: November 11, 2011
Section: Front Page


As early as Sept. 17 of this year, Occupy Wall Street and its numerous offshoot movements have been demanding the world’s attention. This week, Occupy Wall Street has taken to the road on a journey called “Occupy The Highway: The 99 percent March to Washington.”

Protesters at Occupy Wall Street in Liberty Square, NY, set off Wednesday on a two-week trek to Washington, D.C. Members of the march will walk 20 miles per day, stopping at night to camp in designated cities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. At the end of the highway walk, protesters from all across the nation will convene on Nov. 23 in McPherson Square in Washington to protest the Bush tax cuts being discussed by the Congressional Super Committee.

In addition to Occupy The Highway, a handful of new “Occupy” movements have recently declared themselves. Students at Harvard University organized “Occupy Harvard” Wednesday night, erecting 20 tents in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard and drawing support from protesters outside of Harvard. According to The Harvard Crimson, Dean of Student Life Suzy Nelson has met with the protesters and has planned to join occupiers during their general assembly Thursday evening. Currently there are hundreds of “Occupy” protest locations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America, North America (including all 50 states in the United States) and Oceania.

In the Boston area, there is a tremendous student presence at Occupy Boston called “Colleges Occupy Boston.” Students host celebrity speakers and lead citywide walk-outs on a regular basis. At Brandeis a growing group of students are participating in Occupy Boston and are regularly camping out to lend support to the “bottom 99 percent of Americans” in Dewey Square.

There is, however, one club at Brandeis that does not support Occupy Wall Street and its offshoot movements. The Tea Party Nation, Brandeis’ chartered Tea Party movement club, stands to educate students about conservative values and, according to club administrator Mary-Alice Perdichizzi ’12, “the Tea Party Movement is the opposite of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

“There is a significant difference between the Tea Partiers that look to government bureaucracy and corruption as an infringement of their liberties and the Occupiers that routinely shift any blame on the government itself to corporations and businesses and wealthy individuals,” said Perdichizzi. “The Tea Party looks to the individual situation of a given case and certainly doesn’t place unjust blame on someone simply by virtue of how much they’ve managed to achieve.”

According to Perdichizzi, the Brandeis Tea Party Nation is the first college Tea Party club in Massachusetts, although a small group of students at UMass Boston are in the process of forming a Tea Party club.

University President Fred Lawrence said that Brandeis students’ attending some of the Occupy protests was unsurprising.

“The [Occupy protesters] are resonating with real and significant issues in the economy—like income inequality—and not without justification,” he said.