Thousands of students prepare to 'Occupy' colleges - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Thousands of students prepare to 'Occupy' colleges

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'Occupy' protests are mounting across the U.S. and in international communities. (Source: CNN) 'Occupy' protests are mounting across the U.S. and in international communities. (Source: CNN)
College-aged protesters make up a large portion of Wall Street protesters. (Source: CNN/WCVB) College-aged protesters make up a large portion of Wall Street protesters. (Source: CNN/WCVB)
The Occupy Wall Street movement encourages peaceful protesting. (Source: CNN) The Occupy Wall Street movement encourages peaceful protesting. (Source: CNN)

LOS ANGELES (RNN) - College students across the country are preparing for Thursday's national day of protests in unity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

As of Wednesday evening, 90 colleges were confirmed for Occupy College's "National Student Solidarity Protest," according to the group's website. Natalia Abrams, a spokeswoman and facilitator for the group, expects the number to surpass 100.

This will be the second protest of the fledgling group, which sponsored a walk-out on college campuses Oct. 5. Thursday's protests are planned for 4:30 p.m. ET.

[SLIDESHOW: Occupy Wall Street protests spread]

"It's not specifically a walk-out, because we don't want to confuse the protest," Abrams said about the new Occupy Colleges event. "We're not anti-school."

Instead, participating colleges are encouraged to host sit-ins and readings, in which they can spread awareness about the Occupy Wall Street movements and how they can become involved at a grassroots level.

Well more than 100 students are expected to turn out at each event, according to Abrams.

A common slogan of the Occupy movement is, "We are the 99%," referring to its belief that the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1 percent of American corporations and citizens - symbolized by Wall Street - can no longer be tolerated.

But beyond that, most major news organizations and politicians remain uncertain of what the movement really stands for.

Abrams also has a message to deliver to skeptics. She says that the Occupy movement, which began on Sept. 17 in Manhattan, has not yet had enough time to grow leaves.

"Our government has been around for, well, over 250 years, and it looks like they still can't come to a consensus," she said.

Whatever the case, Abrams has no problem listing awaited political reforms.

"One of the things we'd like to see is a separation of corporate personhood," she said.

Abrams also addressed the dim employment opportunities for those students graduating college with expensive degrees and little job outlook.

Recent projections from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) indicates that while employers plan to hire 9.5 percent more college graduates in 2012, these numbers are driven mostly by attrition.

"In general, many employers say they are focusing on 'replacement hires' – individuals who are being brought in to fill the positions of exiting employees," said Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director in a press release.

Abrams said that nowadays a college degree gets graduating students a job they should have had in high school.

Perhaps that's one reason why the movement is catching on at such a fast pace.

After launching last week, the group has received more than 7,300 "likes" on Facebook.

"Through the wonders of social networks, it's been really getting out the word for us," Abrams said.

Occupy Colleges was started in the Los Angeles area by a group of UCLA alumni and activists, who operate in direct solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests. For Abrams, who has volunteered her time to efforts such as Hurricane Katrina relief, the movement seemed like a natural fit.

"I work very closely with groups on my college campus, and I know that lots of great movements start with college students," Abrams said.

At least 100 college campuses participated in the group's original Oct. 5 protest, according to The Nation.

Abrams says that the best way for interested college students to get involved is to register their college at OccupyColleges.com.

"It will never be too late to sign up," Abrams said. "They can sign up the morning of."


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