What could be more fun than a protest? Perhaps a pretend protest! Occupy College Hill organized a campout on the Main Green Oct. 20 as an “offshoot of Occupy Providence.” The event lasted one night and was even “approved by the Student Activities Office,” according to the Brown Daily Herald. The group did not have a clear list of grievances, but hoped their “conversations can lead to concrete action to improve our University.”
This implies that someone actually thought something along the lines of “I’m not quite sure what is wrong with the University, but there must be something wrong. I know what to do! Let’s camp out for a few hours on the Main Green and talk about it. Then maybe magically something will change!” Of course, these imaginary musings ignore the fact that this group advertised themselves as an offshoot of Occupy Providence. Perhaps the internal monologue was more along the lines of “This Occupy movement sounds really fun, but I don’t have the time to spend days sleeping in a park, and I don’t want to risk legal trouble. Maybe I could organize my own chapter of the Occupy movement! I could get permission to sleep outside for a night and hang out with my friends!”
I am not suggesting that students should have organized a more confrontational protest. However, they should have been more clear about what, if anything, they were attempting to accomplish. One of the main complaints about the Occupy movement nationwide is that the protesters do not exactly know what they want. The Occupy Providence Statement of Purpose says that they “occupy to demonstrate an alternative to the fundamental inequality and injustice of a system which places profit over people and oppression over liberation.” They fail to mention exactly what this alternative is. Communism? I am sure they will accomplish those ambitious goals by sleeping in a park and closing about 10 bank accounts.
The Occupy Movement seems particularly offended by Bank of America, which is apparently “greedy.” Occupiers are incensed at the Bank of America’s move to “foreclose homes, despite receiving bailout money from taxpayers,” according to another Brown Daily Herald article. Bank of America is not a charity. I would not want to invest money that I intended to get back with interest in a company whose main function was to support people who consistently failed to pay their mortgages. Requiring bailout money is evidence that the bank cannot support too many bad mortgages. The reason many banks ran into trouble was granting mortgages in the first place to the type of people the Occupiers claim the banks do not care about. Perhaps the Occupiers need to take an economics class — and possibly a statistics class — before claiming that 99 percent of the country in on their side.
Many Brown students seem to support this movement. Students have been giving out copies of the Occupy Providence Statement of Purpose on the Main Green. It is obviously well within their rights to support this movement and to organize their own offshoot, but I still believe we should be asking more questions about what the Occupy movement is fighting for. Personally, I do not want to be included in the 99 percent.