By Dharana Rijal, News Writer, MPP ‘13
Hundreds of students marched from Boston Common to Dewey Square on Monday October 10th to show solidarity with the “Occupy Boston” movement, which has seen demonstrations against a range of issues in the past few days — including unemployment, economic inequality, and the relationship between government and financial institutions.
The movement in Boston, one of several inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York City, has comprised of several daytime protests in the financial district, and ongoing demonstrations by groups that have been camping out in tents at Dewey Square for more than a week. The demonstrations have gained immense traction thanks in part to online resources made available to supporters, which include a calendar of events and a daily log documenting agendas and public discussions.
The variety in students’ motivations for joining the rally on Monday matched the plethora of causes represented.
“I think it’s ridiculous that 1% of the country controls 42% of its wealth,” said MPP student Ben Beachy when asked about his motivations for joining the student rally on Monday. Moreover, compared to past efforts he has been a part of, Beachy said he has found the current movement to be different. “The rapid proliferation of #Occupy movements over the last few days has shown unprecedented momentum,” he said, “This one has potential.”
Another student activist Kaya Juda-Nelson said she was inspired by the idea of “people coming together to bring about change rather than sitting around and talking about how it needs to happen.” She said she decided to join the rally to help ensure that “the government is working for the people rather than for corporations.”
A recent college graduate, Eli, decided to show up for a more personal reason. “I did everything right; I got good grades; did the right internships and extra-curriculars in college,” he said, “but I am having hell of a rough time finding a job… today we are stepping up and telling the corporations that they’re disenfranchising people like us.”
A group of HKS students that were in New York City over the long weekend also attended the “Occupy Wall Street” protest. MPP student Imran Sarwar said he thought the movement would do better with a more concrete direction and set of agendas. “That being said,” he continued, “the energy of the place is simply amazing.”
In contrast, most activists at the student rally in Boston seemed to view the plurality of causes voiced by different groups as a positive thing. Jason Stephany of Massuniting.org, who was there to advocate for the American Jobs Act, saw a common thread between his group’s cause and the students’. “It all comes down to jobs and corporate accountability,” he said.
Commenting on criticisms regarding the movement’s lack of centralized leadership and direction, MPP student Beachy said that he himself started out skeptical. But now, “I think the motley crew of causes makes sense for this early point in the movement, as much for the movement’s democratic ideals as for its sheer size,” he said. “And yeah, it’s messy,” he continued, “Democracy is messy.”