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Alma Fausto: Occupy movement needs a clear objective

Alma Fausto
Alma Fausto

Consistently inconsistent is the best way to describe the whole of what the Occupy is. The lack of leaders, protester demands and a clear plan for the future have done little for the "movement" and its efficiency -- and the UC Merced branch of this craze is no exception. With no signs of life other than the changing tent locations, it can safely be said that this "demonstration" will also take a time out for the winter break and probably won't return. Not that its absence will really change anyone's lives, because you can't miss something that was never really there.

The extent of the occupiers' actions so far has been to picket during the latest University of California regents meeting held on campus (we can't even take credit for the publicized disrupting of the meeting because our demonstration was rather bleak), but after that it's been a constant display of general meetings then getting back to the tents. But four to six of these members of the movement turned up at UCM's Teach-In session where their calls to action consisted of sitting at the back of the room and advertising general meeting information.

While it's not necessarily a requirement to cause a ruckus at a meeting or come out strongly representing the plight of the movement, not taking the opportunity to bring up the important issues (whatever they may be) when the room is full of UCM's top administrators, faculty, staff, and students seems a waste of a Teach-In in the eyes of anyone wanting to cause a real social movement.

During this session, a lecturer on campus who was also a protester asked the audience to do an activity with her that would teach us what Occupy really was. She asked, "What do you think of when you say 'the system' "? She passed around Post-It notes and told everyone to write any grievance to "whatever the individual considered "the system" to be. The answers ranged from "My education is too expensive" to "There is a dog park in Merced but nowhere to house the homeless." This lecturer then went on to claim that whatever your beef was with "the system," it represented what the movement was about.


It was disheartening to see yet another form of ambiguity in that there were different definitions of "the system" for everyone.

The most publicity is about protesting methods and police behavior. No rhetoric aside from "the 1 percent" and "the 99 percent" is present, and you hear no chants or cries other than those caused by police dismantling camps. The movement's biggest accomplishment so far has been to educate people on protesting methods, not fulfilling goals or concentrating on tangibles they can actually change.

It's not enough to refuse conforming to the conventional power structures. But even then, the only conventional structure the occupiers have refused is the one about living indoors. The only thing that can be agreed on is that this movement brings people together to confirm to one another that they have grievances and that they need to be changed.

Sometimes it's essential to have a business plan because they at least outline the objectives, where they want to be and how they intend to get there.

The Occupy Movement in Merced, at UC Merced, and in every other place in the U.S. won't change the welfare of America with its current stagnation. It's not enough to pat yourselves on the back for coming out in support and sharing your food with your tentmate. Movements that have changed the state of affairs have done so with more than meeting the daily quota of listing grievances and anger at "the system." They have done so with movement.

Get moving, or move on.

The author is a senior in political science at the University of California at Merced.