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Occupiers fail to occupy building … And our attention

In recent Occupy Oakland news, occupiers attempted to “move-in” to the abandoned Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center to no avail. Remember that?

Yeah, it was weeks ago now. Who can keep track of all of the movement’s actions? Mills seems to have cooled off from the once hot topic of Occupy Oakland. Is it because we are getting frustrated with the movement, which has been receiving more bad press than good? Is it because the movement’s more violent members are taking the spotlight?

In the news are stories of burning American flags, destruction of public property — specifically a children’s art exhibit that was destroyed by the protestors — which must mean that these protestors are anti-Americans with blackened hearts, right? Who else would dare destroy the art of innocent children? The coverage of the violence and destruction of Occupiers may be part of the reason for Mills’ step back from the movement.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan called the Occupy movement “a constant provocation of the police with a lot of violence toward them.” Even supporters of the movement here at Mills think that the violence is leading the movement astray.

We think that the tactics of the Occupiers show discrepancies between their goal of social justice and the methods used to achieve that goal. How can complaints about police brutality be substantiated when violence coming from protestors is also victimizing the police? Police are often cast as the antagonist by Occupiers, but the same reasoning could be applied by police to Occupiers when they are attacked by projectile bicycles, which did occur on the Jan 28 “move-in” day.

Besides the ethical problems many may have with the violence seen in downtown Oakland, college students are just busy. Who has spare time to stay up to date with the movement’s agenda when classes require our constant procrastinating attention? When we are staring at our books with brain cells struggling to do their brain jobs, how can we take extra time to work with a movement that is based on ideas with which we aren’t feeling connected.

The Occupy movement worldwide is based on the idea that those without jobs and homes are unfairly handed a dismal sentence. This may be hard for us as college students to relate to twhen we are housed and working a 40 hour week at our current “job” that requires our daily attention.

But, this is why the Occupy movement does affect us. Our goal as college students is to change the world and maybe help ourselves out and get a job along the way. Remember that, regardless of the hard work we put in, graduation could lead to unemployment in the current economy. We do have a stake in this.

But what can we do about it, we’re busy!

Awareness is always helpful, but the availability of unbiased news about the movement is sparse and the decrease in activity of Occupy Mills means we have to search for the news on our own.

Also, the Occupy movement has to work pretty hard to get coverage in the mainstream media. The popular press relies on sensationalism and tends to forget about Occupy when things are less controversial.

Many critiques of the movement take issue with the lack of a clear, concise vision. A vision for the future demands critical thinking and an in-depth understanding of society, and this requires a well-developed mind which is often a product of higher education. A devotion to school can lead to a devotion to world change. And so, as students, we are all involved.

There are more roles in this than being arrested in the street or sleeping in a tent by City Hall. Don’t think that because you aren’t marching in the streets with signs you aren’t a part of the movement. Being a college student is important. An establishment like Mills College is where we enlarge the future big brains we need to get these problems solved.

People need to be in the streets yelling, but there’s much to be done on the sidelines, too. We can really do a lot by succeeding in school. So, put down your picket signs, put on your sweat pants, and stare at the blinking cursor on your computer, waiting for you to solve the problems of your homework, not the world. You’ll get to that later.