Stringing Together the Highlights on Occupy Oswego
Somewhere in this mad patchwork of YouTube-ian idiocy, pirate infested file sharing seas, shameless 4chan exhibitionism, pop up propagandist distractions, Wikipedia knowledge treasure troves and hyper-ephemeral Facebooked social circles I knew there would be crumbs of Occupy Oswego to be found scattered in the virtual cosmos. Indeed, the ripples of our initials waves are traceable with a few… vroom-vroom! …search engines, and thus I have for you the highlights of the cyberweb landscape.
Syracuse.com was the first one to publicize the tents going up in the quad, quickly followed by a more detailed article with a rather slanderous array of comments. Speaking of slander, a forum shows one student occupying the quad having to deal with vandalism! Speaking under user name OswegoAtheist the student wrote “Unfortunately, some jackoffs cut a hole in my tent while I was sleeping, so now I have to go get it patched. We’ve had all of our signs kicked down at some point in their existence as well.” Jacob Pucci witnessed similar attitudes toward the campus occupation in his opinion piece for the Oswegonian, “So why do so many students look down upon the protesters, especially the students willing to brave the elements and camp outside? As I walked by the encampment one day, I heard murmurs of how stupid it is, how there isn’t any point in doing it. Granted, the weather has not exactly been camping-friendly, but that is beside the point. The point is, those willing to sleep under the thin plastic sheets of a portable tent, while their warm, comfortable dorm room is only a short walk away, are taking action.”
Notably and refreshingly, however, there has been some exemplary support noted by the press. Head of the English department Bennet Schaber, after helping construct the tents along side English professor Maureen Curtin, was cited as saying “A university education should be free. And if it is not free, then we should demand a mandatory living wage commensurate with the costs of sending young people to university.. Every Wal-Mart or McDonalds employee should be paid enough to send her children to university without incurring any debt.” In the same article it is noted that “Psychology professor Rebecca Burch donated rain ponchos, while President Deborah Stanley sent snacks” and the campus police have been friendly. From my own observations I have observed English Professor Don Masterson participating in occupation activities, commenting “This is the happiest I’ve been with the political conscious in oh… 30 years?” Then there is of course that red bandana’d, megaphone slinging, optimism and activism preaching student that holds the unofficial “Free Speech Friday” in the quad every Friday afternoon, equipped with chalk for those that want to write on the sidewalks and megaphone for all that have something to say. Amidst the pastel and day-glo scribbled, cheerful sidewalk writings worthy of a sugar rush to even the most pessimistic of quad-haunters, he bellowed loudly through his megaphone, “99% of all that is written here are positive messages!” 99% is a number that is popping up repeatedly, I suppose.
Despite the college’s neutrality (it is an institution after all, what are you expecting?) beacons of support are showing through the cracks of the ideological white out of political distaste shown not only though the student body but the general Oswegonian population. No other problem is as important right now as the difficulty in kindling a political passion. As I write this it is not just for others. I string words together as a way of getting out of the hole of learned political helplessness, because I need others to pull me out too. I write out of impatience, and with impatience, as they must use this writing to save themselves just as I use them to save myself. We have a common project. We have the occupation. We can pull each other out. Hopefully this website serves a means to build the virtual ladder out of the hole.
A (free) book I may recommend for those inclined to pull themselves out of the hole:
Never before has a civilization reached such a degree of a contempt for life; never before has a generation, drowned in mortification, felt such a rage to live.
— Raoul Vaneigem