Occupy Wall Street rally spreads to Lewisburg

By Jen Lassen

Writer

Approximately 300 Lewisburg community members and 100 University students joined 143 other colleges and universities by sponsoring the University’s own version of the Occupy Wall Street rallies on Oct. 15 from 1-2 p.m. at the Lewisburg Post Office. The event was sponsored by the University’s Social Justice Residential College.
Originally beginning as a protest in New York City, the Occupy Wall Street movement has become a national and even international phenomenon coming to college campuses everywhere.
The event included community support and initiative. Co-sponsors were the Joseph Priestly Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, C.A.R.E., the Spilling Ink Writers Collective, the Central Susquehanna Citizens Coalition, the Local Action Network, the Mondragón Bookstore, the Center for Non-Violent Living, Organizations United for the Environment and the Norman Thomas Society. David Kristjanson-Gural, senior fellow for the Social Justice College and associate professor of economics, commented on the main motivation to bring an Occupy Wall Street protest to the community.
“There’s a need to create a democratic space for people to voice their concerns about economic justice; in general, this is missing at a local and national level. A foremost concern is expressing individual views on these issues,” Kristjanson-Gural said.
The rally was structured to include an open-microphone speak-out against economic injustice and excessive corporate domination. Individuals had the opportunity to speak for two to three minutes each about how the economic crisis is affecting them and what they think ought to be done.
“Human beings should be worth more than dollar bills,” David Blaides ’15 said to the crowd on Saturday.
According to Kristjanson-Gural, students benefited from the rally in multiple ways.
“The rally gave students experience speaking out in public and helped them ‘find their voice’ on these issues, and they commented on how the rally helped them to further understand the course material they’re currently learning at Bucknell. It was certainly successful in helping fulfill the educational goal of students,” he said.
As for the community, “[the rally] allowed groups and people for social justice to recognize their significance and encourage them to keep doing the work they’re doing in this field,” Kristjanson-Gural said.
The rally was carried out peacefully. There was very little evidence of opposition to the rally, and local traffic honking in support of the event was continuous.
Professor of English Saundra Morris described the larger implications of the rally that united the University and Lewisburg community.
“These rallies are important to demonstrate to Wall Street and banks and financial institutions that people are going to start standing up for themselves. People want the government to tax the rich. They want CEOs to stop making wildly more money than workers. They want jobs. They want healthcare and not corporate welfare. These rallies across the nation and the world demonstrate those desires,” Morris said.
“Hopefully, this rally marked the beginning of an ongoing process where people will continue to participate in democracy and let their own voices be heard,” Kristjanson-Gural said.
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