Occupy Harvard Unites Boston Student Movements

More than 80 students from 18 college campuses around the Boston area gathered on Sunday for the Occupy Boston Student Summit held in Emerson Hall.

Occupy Harvard hosted the Boston-wide meeting that was organized by various Occupy groups to nurture a cohesive community and to create plans for coordinated action among the different student Occupy groups.

“We’re taking a step back so that everyone would be on the same page on issues,” said Amanda Achin, a student from the University of Massachusetts Boston. “Also, we want to take a step forward together, while growing the number of students involved.”

Through “Identity Breakout groups,” organizers attempted to foster connections between different student Occupy Groups. The three identity groups—feminists, people of color, and LGBTQ advocates—connected over common issues they believe Occupy can fight for in the future.

“We want people to identify with something to build support in the community and organize around issues we care about,” said Meg Lazar, a student from Northeastern University. “It’s important to have these kinds of meetings and exercises to create not just a movement but also a community that cares about where it’s going and what its future is.”

The Occupy student groups also set two dates for future protests. They planned the Higher Education Day of Action, which will be Mar. 1, and Mayday on May 1.

The Higher Education Day of Action is a two-hour rally that will protest the cuts in higher education, as well as banking institutions taking advantage of student debts. The tentative locations for this protest are the Massachusetts State House and banking institutions around the Boston area.

“We are going to institutions that failed us from an educational standpoint, institutions that benefit from privatization of education,” Lazar said. “Also, some part of the March for Education is for reminding people of the values of education...something people tend to forget.”

Plans for Mayday have not yet been set, although the national Occupy movement is calling for general strike, student walkouts, and a protest of the G8 NATO summit that will be held in Chicago.

Other issues raised during the summit included discussions on student debt and education inequality, causes that Occupy hopes to address.

“We wanted to talk about different issues that students are affected by and figure out how we’ll organize ourselves to get reform, whether it’s student debt forgiveness or addressing the privatization of education,” said Chris Morrill, a student from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

MIT professor Noam Chomsky led a panel discussion on the problems with the current education system, as well as how the student Occupy groups fit into the Occupy movement as a whole.

—Staff writer David Song can be reached at davidsong@college.harvard.edu.

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