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Students rally at Occupy MN

By Chris Getowicz |
October 15, 2011
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Kerry Green of Women's Student Activist Collective speaking at Occupy Minnesota.
Kerry Green of Women's Student Activist Collective speaking at Occupy Minnesota. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Over 50 students from around the state gathered at the Occupy Minnesota site here, Oct. 13. They came together to speak to the struggles of students burdened by crippling debts, challenged by inequalities and struggling to get an education in a system corrupted by corporate interests.

As students gathered at the opening rally, speakers from SEIU, the Black Student Union at the University of Minnesota, the Women's Student Activist Collective (WSAC) and the Experimental College of Minneapolis spoke to the crowd. The themes included challenging institutional racism, sexism, class oppression and homophobia, as well as alternatives to the current profit-driven system that has pushed higher education into a crisis.

Kerry Green of WSAC and the Pro-Choice Coalition at the University of Minnesota drew parallels between the systems of privilege that exist in higher education, the economy, the health care system and across the various segments of American society. Her speech focused on the privileges of the few that burdened the 99%, including the vast population of students around the world. She drew the crowd’s attention to the fight of the GLBTQ people who struggle both with poverty and access to basic human rights.

Zach Tauer, a University of Minnesota student and organizer with both Occupy Minnesota and Experimental College of Minneapolis, demanded an end to an education system that is oppressive and corrupted by a banker-style system. Tauer focused on the need to create a system where all participants both teach and learn.

Joe Farley, another student and an organizer at Occupy Minnesota, explained his involvement in organizing with the 99% as being motivated by his family. Farley described how his sisters are burdened by massive student debts and are underemployed and too ‘over-qualified’ to get jobs.

Lateef Oseni of the Black Student Union, a first generation American and the first in his family to attend a university, reminded the students about the long legacy of struggle for equal access in education. Oseni described the 1969 Morrill Hall takeover and occupation at the University of Minnesota. He explained the urgent need for a confrontation today with a university which does not allow equal access to education.

After the rally students gathered for an open conversation about steps that can be taken to organize and build within the Occupy movement which is sweeping the nation. The group suggested organizing and building support across campuses through opening dialogue, and organizing a follow-up student rally and march on the banks, Oct.19, at 5:00 p.m.

The group came to a consensus that throughout the afternoon of Sunday, Oct.16, students will gather at the Occupy Minnesota space to make signs and banners and continue to organize future actions. Any students interested, of any age and from any institution, are encouraged to participate both on Oct. 16 and on Oct 19. If you are interested, visit Occupy Minnesota in downtown Minneapolis or contact organizers, including members of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota.