Protesters are not only Occupying Wall Street, they’re occupying Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Boston, and more college campuses than I can even list. Citizens of the United States have finally reached a breaking point and are finally pouring out their frustrations with our financial industry on a steadily growing national stage. I think this is a brilliant moment for the 99%.
I think Teryn Norris and Eli Pollack stated the student body’s best way to support the movement when they said “Stop the Wall Street Recruitment.” If we are truly angry with our financial institutions, then we need to boycott their recruitment. We need to show that they are uninvited on our campus. But we’re smart people – we know that dismissing the financial sector entirely would be ridiculous. A good way to make change in these corporations is internally. Waving around signs isn’t going to do much unless we use leverage the ideals Stanford imbued in us to make a change in the way that these corporations are run.
Besides, I do think it’s a bit contrived to jump on a national bandwagon. If job security and the wealth disparitywere a large concern here, I think our outspoken students would have spoken up already. Why Occupy Stanford when we can bolster the more sustained protests happening right next door in Palo Alto? Why should we Occupy Stanford itself? I know that this is in support of of the other movements but we need to acknowledge basic facts about ourselves before we form a picket line.
1. Not only do the majority of students get jobs a few months after graduation but they’re pretty well paid as well.
2. We may be upset about monstrous loans but our college does everything it can to prevent us from getting into major debt.
3.Our school is on a Billionaire University list. We’re not all going to become billionaires but we have the means and support to find financially stable careers post-graduation if that’s what we choose to do.
Also, one of the first things we need to do before we start lay the claim to being part of the “99%” is actually start a conversation about socioeconomic status at this school. Besides the fact that we can’t connect as well to the protests happening nationally while we’re insulated in our bubble, we need to actually learn to be comfortable and talk about the struggles of the students around us. We’re willing to support the financial woes of others across the nation but we aren’t ready to have a serious discussion about what it means to be poor at our own institution? We can do better than that. While Stanford works fiercely to broaden its socioeconomic diversity, it remains one of the least talked about concerns on this campus.
We can choose to add solidarity to the movement be staging in a protest on our campus. But staging a protest is just that- for show. Yet, unless we actually change our view of financial institutions we’re not doing anything other than adding (understandably useful) publicity to the movement with our big name school. My underlying issue with this entire protest is the question of what happens afterwards? I think this has the potential to show that Stanford students can pick up a sign, stand around White Plaza for an afternoon and then go back to their classes and career fairs the next day. We can make big flashy displays about wanting change but unless we follow through with it, our actions will be hollow publicity stunts. Here’s your chance, Stanford. Prove me wrong.