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'Occupy' movement continues to grow at CSM

By Jeffery Gonzalez
On November 15, 2011

A cloth sign that read "Occupy CSM" swayed in the wind Nov. 3 as a group of CSM students emulated the Occupy Wall Street movement in front of the College Center.

The group waved cardboard signs and handed out fliers with information they gathered about budget cuts and other general information about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"Occupy Wall Street stands for a lot of different things," said one of the occupiers, Charles Blanco. "Our focus is on the things that hit home that are neglected by OWS (Occupy Wall Street)."

Homemade cardboard signs and young protesters speaking out against their current state make OccupyCSM a small scale version of what OWS represents. A major difference between CSM's occupation and that of Wall Street is that the protesters at CSM are not camping or marching like their national counterparts.

The first objective of the group is to amass more people and then get a consensus of what the people want to do, said Blanco.

The campus reaction to the protest was mostly very positive, said Snyder.

The group posed no impediments on other students and did an excellent job of communicating their message, said Chief of Security John Wells.

"We did get some hecklers though," said Blanco.

Some students approached the demonstrators who were holding signs that read "apathy is hurting our future" and asked if apathy meant incest. The protesters duly answered the questions and dismissed the passerby, according to Blanco. "It's all part of the territory," he said. "That kind of thing is expected."

Grace Noland, another Occupy CSM organizer, described some students' approach as abrasive and aggressive.

Noland said she felt those who did not agree with the demonstration assumed the group to be just "some college students who didn't know anything."

"I don't know what they're talking about. I just go to my classes and that's it," said student Geo Cuellar.

"The 20 to 30 people who did stop to talk to me, know that I stand for something," said Noland.

Many students were curious and wanted to get involved but were uneasy about it, said Blanco. He will try to make a comfortable atmosphere for people to express themselves, he added.

The group held another demonstration on Nov. 8 which went better than expected, according to Snyder. "What happened (Tuesday) was what we wanted to happen on Thursday. More people stopped and took time to discuss things with us," he said.

The sitting down aspect was more inviting to those walking by, said Snyder.

The students got to know each other and learn what they wanted to accomplish, said Snyder.  

There was a general agreement within the group that a teach-in is a good idea, said Snyder and Noland.

The group collected email addresses of those interested in the protest.

The group may use the email list to update people on when upcoming CSM demonstrations will be, said Brandon Snyder, one of the groups organizers.

"We're all there as individuals hoping to come together to make a change. We are all there speaking for only ourselves," said Noland. "If we do speak together, we all have to agree."

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