The Occupy Stanford movement is extending its efforts beyond Meyer Library with new on-campus initiatives, in addition to participation in neighboring city protests and collaboration with other universities on a new Occupy Education movement.
On Fri. Jan. 20, Occupy Stanford members took part in Occupy Wall Street West, in which more than 1,500 protesters marched in the San Francisco financial district. The San Francisco protest intentionally coincided with Occupy the Courts, a national protest of the anniversary of the Citizens United ruling.
The next day, Occupy organizers from Stanford and other area schools met at the University of California, Berkeley to plan “Occupy Education.” The effort will include a weeklong protest beginning with a student walk out on Mar. 1. Students and faculty then plan to march from UC-Berkeley to Sacramento to “Occupy the Capital.”
“At the meeting today we decided on calling it ‘The 99-Mile March for Education and Social Justice,’” said Anna McConnell ’14, a member of Occupy Stanford.
The idea for Occupy Education has taken off in Northern California, where UC tuition hikes have focused the movement’s attention on those at the top of the UC system. Students at Occupy Stanford see this new protest as an effort to strengthen the movement across schools.
“I have become really good friends with Rob Slaughter, who experienced severe police brutality at Cal, and now he is in Washington, D.C. occupying in front of the White House,” McConnell said. “You form these natural connections all over the country.”
The movements are careful to avoid hierarchical relationships, and the result is that connections are often made on an individual basis.
Occupy UC Davis member Artem Raskin, class of 2013, said he believes this kind of organization is challenging, but that it motivates members by being inclusive.
“People are more likely to be involved if they feel they can shape the movement,” he said.
Occupy Stanford member Peter McDonald ’12 said he thinks the Occupy model may be particularly challenging and rewarding at Stanford.
“It can be harder to come up with an action plan to rally the troops at Stanford,” McDonald said. “Everybody is used to high-functioning institutions, but it also means that the movement is what you make of it.”
In addition to recurring 5 p.m. general assemblies in Meyer Library on Fridays and Mondays, Occupy Stanford held teach-ins at the library this past Saturday and Sunday.
The group is also continuing to plan opposition to on-campus recruiting efforts by financial institutions.
“The University is using Stanford students as pawns to make money,” said Josh Schott ’14, referring to the fact that the Career Development Center sells Stanford student access to recruiters from Wall Street firms.
In addition, Occupy Stanford wants to rename the Bechtel-sponsored spaces on campus. Bechtel Corporation is known for leading major construction projects, but has received criticism for some of its practices. In a widely reported incident, Bechtel led a private group that bought the water supply of a Bolivian city and then raised the prices. The result was an uprising, and Bechtel ultimately pulled out.
“The end goal could be an official renaming, but initially we just want to change it amongst the Stanford community,” Schott said.