The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Occupy Wall Street spreads to City College

Students gather in front of the Learning Resource Center building on campus to voice their opinions during a student-walk out Oct. 13, 2011. Tony Wallin [email protected]

The Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired protests across the country with citizens voicing their view that big business has too much influence on government. The protests have given rise to Occupy College, a grassroots movement that features the voices of discontented students.

Approximately 100 City College students and instructors came together Oct. 13 in front of the Learning Resource Center to protest as a part of the Occupy College movement organized through the website Over 120 colleges across the nation held protests on their campuses.

Reading Professor Nancy Olsen helped organize the protest at City College.

“Primarily what I feel is a fear for my students’ future, and that’s one of the reasons I got involved. Not unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement, it’s not a tidy movement,” Olsen said.

Topics of concern for activists involved in the Occupy College movement echo the sentiments of Occupy Wall Street and include student loan debt, taxes, healthcare and the lack of jobs upon graduation.

“That’s the double bind they are in. It’s that students are taking out loans to pay for their education, they’re doing exactly what we’ve asked them to do but there’s no reward at the end of it,” said Olsen, echoing the sentiments of the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Jamel Oliver, 20, undecided on his major holds his homemade sign, in front of the LRC building at Sacramento City College on Oct. 13, 2011. Tony Wallin|[email protected]

According to, the Occupy College movement, which has spread to colleges across the nation, is in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Over 120 colleges across the nation, including UCLA, Washington University and San Diego City College, among others, have taken part.

The student protests across the nation, come on the heels of news that student debt will exceed $1 trillion this year. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that students took out $100 billion in loans in 2010 alone.

“I am absolutely in support of students mobilizing, students taking responsibility for their participation in the democratic process,” said history Professor Dominic Cerri. “I firmly believe it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. If students don’t let it be known that they are being hurt by these decisions and policies, then there is going to be nothing but more of the same thing happening.”

Tuition and student fees have more doubled since 2000, according to a report in Moody’s Analytics.

The Project on Student Debt’s 2010 report revealed that the average debt of a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree is $24,000.
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Over the last 14 years, students have been subject to new rules for student loans that previous generations did not contend with. Congress declared in 1998 that students were no longer allowed to default on federal student loans unless there is undue hardship.

In 2005, students who took out private loans were also not allowed to declare bankruptcy on those loans.

“I think that the protest can have a positive effect. The more people we can get out here, the bigger the difference,” said student supporter Nolan Ono.

By posting fliers around campus and issuing emails to the faculty, Olsen helped facilitate student and faculty turnout.

Although class was scheduled during this time, History Professor Sherri Patton allowed her class to attend part of the protest, expressing the importance of movements like this.

City College students Sean Thompson, 27 (far left); Harlee Demeerleer, 21 (in white), and Dan Stanfield, 23 (in green), join protesters Thursday to march from the Capitol back to Cesar Chavez Park as part of the Occupy Sacramento. Evan E. Duran|[email protected]

“I feel that lecture is one way to learn, but it is not all the ways to learn,” Patton said. “In my class what I try to promote is the idea you can speak up for your beliefs, whatever your beliefs are.”

“From my perspective, it is raising awareness for my students because the number of students I talked to in handing out fliers for this who had not heard about Occupy Wall Street was astonishing. So part of it is education,” Olsen said. “And the second part is social justice.”

Aside from raising awareness of the country’s problems, the goal was to help students realize that the only way they have a voice is in numbers, explained Olsen.

“Education is part of the responsibility of the government,” said history Professor Riad Bahhur who observed the student protest.

“It’s about building the future of the country by allowing access as a basic right to students in this country, that they not be hampered with student loans for the rest of their lives, that they are able to get in to colleges and get into classes that we not cut access,” Bahhur said.

Additional reporting by Amy Wong

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