November 11, 2011

Students hold quad protest in Occupy solidarity

Courtesy of Darren Leow

A handful of students weathered a brief flurry of snow yesterday during a four-hour Occupy the Quad demonstration. The demonstration was an attempt to gain momentum for the Occupy movement on campus, even after the group was denied RSO status by ORCSA.

The event, organized by U of C students involved with the Occupy Chicago movement, preludes Occupy Hyde Park, an upcoming mass protest of the University’s Condoleezza Rice and Henry Paulson talk next Monday night.

The event was meant to raise awareness of student involvement in the Occupy movement, organizers said. Demonstrators chanted popular protest slogans, exhibited the use of the “human microphone,” and held a mock General Assembly meeting—mainstays of the Occupy protests around the country.

“The thing is, it’s a long trip from here to downtown. I make it because I know what it is, but I understand people who don’t know what’s going on might not make the entire trip. So we wanted to make our presence known and try to get people involved who might not be otherwise confronted by it,” social sciences graduate student and Occupy the Quad organizer Kyla Bourne said.

UChicago Occupy listhost administrator and Social Service Administration graduate student Doug Stalnos said he was pleased with the turnout, despite the weather.

“Even if it seems slow, events like this really foster momentum. It’s only going to speed up again. We’re focusing our attention to Monday,” Stalnos said.

While the goal was to reach out to those who were curious to learn more about Occupy, students traversing the quad had a wide range of responses, social sciences graduate student and event organizer Zeshan Aleem said, with some speaking out supportively and others downright hostile.

“The hostility manifests only as people smirking or laughing. I’d be like, ‘Are you interested in Occupy Chicago?’ and they’d say, ‘Interested in shutting it down’—snide stuff, but nothing more,” Alean said.

Currently, UChicago Occupy meets weekly to discuss campus activity with varying attendance. The group’s attempt at becoming an official RSO was denied by ORSCA, history Ph.D. student Guy Mount said, on “the grounds that they believe that the Occupy movement was a ‘temporary political movement and that was not sustainable.’”

ORSCA recommended that UChicago Occupy piggyback with other activist organizations instead.

“Well, you didn’t tell the karate club that they should work with the aikido club because it’s basically the same kind of thing,” Mount, who handled the group’s RSO application, said. “So the Zombie Task Awareness Force has RSO status and we don’t qualify?”