“We are the 99 percent.” This has been the mantra of the Occupy Wall Street protestors since Sept. 17. It began in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, but has since spread to many cities and college campuses across the nation. And on Monday, Oct. 24, it came to Ohio State. At around 11:45, a small gathering had started to form, and a group (mostly made up of members of Occupy Columbus), armed with a few posters, a tent, and some rain gear, began to set up camp on the Oval.
I was only there for a half an hour or so, but from what I saw, the turnout was low. I’m willing to bet the crowd grew as the hours passed. However, that morning, there were maybe a dozen students, apart from a class (clearly on some kind of field trip) observing and diligently taking notes as their teacher stood close by.
Three students were pointed out to me as organizers of the event, but no one wanted to be singled out as a leader.
I’ve been keeping up with a fair amount of the coverage of these protests, and I think that the only consistent thread connecting these Occupy protests is their lack of consistency. It seems to me that there is no clear cut direction, no distinct goals. The aim of “occupying” varies with each person you speak to. What took place on the Oval was no exception. I spoke with one protester who talked about wanting to stop the privatization of the university (i.e. the parking). Another told me that he wanted socialism to not be considered a “bad” word.
The Occupy movement has been described as 21st century, a lifestyle, a culture, a protest that doesn’t have a traditional rise and fall in interest (and that this explains the more than 40 days and counting), and yes, that is one way to look at it. However, I think that mostly it is just an outlet to complain about whatever you want. I fail to see how such a wide-ranging list of issues can be solved by rallying against those who happen to be part of the wealthiest 1 percent. With that many goals and aims, I think it’s next to impossible to achieve anything, and while I am all for standing up for what you believe in, protesting something isn’t exactly offering up solutions to what you have a problem with. It is only fighting the status quo.
I believe that the Occupy movement could (as much as I’m sure that they’d hate it) take a leaf out of the Tea Party’s book. That is, in my opinion, a prime example of how to run a protest, they are organized and stand for just a few specific things – lowering taxes, reducing government spending, as well as our national debt, and interpreting the Constitution from an originalist stance. If the Occupy movement could focus their protests, and avoid embarrassing events like the 30 arrests made after Occupy protesters refused to obey a midnight curfew in Jamison Square, a park in an affluent part of Portland, Ore., then maybe they would have a little more success and be taken a little more seriously.