The coverage online of the Occupy Wall Street movement is as diverse as its supporters: videos depict chanting crowds being doused with pepper spray by armed police; articles doubt the movement’s means to continue on through the winter; while websites like “We are the 99 Percent” paint touching stories of the lives of the people at the heart of this movement.
One recent graduate holds up this sign on the “We are the 99 Percent” website: “I am single with a Master’s Degree and a decent job with health insurance. I pay more in college loans each month than any other bill. If you subtract the yearly amount for loans, I make less than I would making minimum wage. I was told my education would be the key to success. I am the 99%.”
College students protesting their student loans and the rising cost of higher education seem like the strong foundation of the movement. But they are in no way standing up alone. The Occupy Wall Street movement has supporters from every age and demographic, including a growing support from the American’s elite—the one percent of the other side who are showing their support on websites like We Stand with the 99 percent.
In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal Poll released last Wednesday, 37 percent of the nation tends to support the movement, higher than the support the United States had for the Tea Party.
However, it is just this diversity and widespread characteristics of the support that might make the movement hard to carry on. Everyone has been drawn into support for different reasons, making it hard for the national coordinators to agree on what the next critical steps should be.
A document entitled Principles of Solidarity was accepted by the protest’s General Assembly on September 17, making it over three months since the first protests began. The document stated in broad terms the movement’s purpose, saying in closing, “We are daring to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality. We are consolidating the other proposed principles of solidarity, after which demands will follow.”
This last statement, “demands will follow,” promises a set of written demands for the movement, but members are having trouble agreeing on whether they should even have demands, let alone what those demands should look like.
Minutes from the group’s meetings over the last month show voices talking over one another and futile efforts from the facilitators trying to keep everyone on track and give everyone a voice in the proceedings. The result is a thread of separate conversations and everyone’s two cents about what they believe are the right next steps.
With each suggestion comes a new concern, many of which point to the decreasing temperatures and the logistics of camping outside in public places. As cities are cracking down on codes to disband the encampments on issues of public health and safety, a New York Times article last week noticed a trend toward relocation of the movement on college campuses.
A national group, Occupy Colleges is currently working to unite college students around the nation. And according to the article, last Wednesday at Berkeley, around 3,000 people gathered to protest tuition increases, and many then set up a camp.
While the longevity of the Occupy movement has yet to be determined, these recent events don’t foretell a quick departure from the media anytime soon.
(Catie Stipe / email@example.com)