Occupying Wall Street: It’s About Time We Stood Up For Ourselves


Young protesters, frustrated with their prospects, have taken this opportunity to make their voices heard.


Occupy Wall Street is the best thing that has happened to this country in a while, and as its inception is happening a short train ride away from FCLC, I urge all Fordham students to take a stand and join the protests, as students did in the 1960’s.

Young protesters, frustrated with their prospects, have taken this opportunity to make their voices heard. (Sara Azoulay/The Observer)

Throughout 2011, we have witnessed the emergence of a corporatocracy in the United States whereby the richest one percent own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, more than at any other time in the country’s history since the 1920s. This percentage is effectively dictating the direction of American politics and economics.

There is one thing they haven’t been able to control though: American society. On Sept. 17, a few brave people decided that they didn’t believe in the system anymore, and they went to downtown Manhattan to sit down in a park and begin the movement that has spread across the country to Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Portland, Seattle and LA, among other cities.

There is no question these protesters are staying right where they are, and the Occupy Wall Street movement is not just a fad. Some have even suggested that it could become a liberal Tea Party, a grass roots people’s movement without a designated leader but with boundless energy that will be challenge an entrenched system.  I certainly hope so.

Since the emergence of the Tea Party I have wondered when the left and moderates of this country would demand that the ultra-conservative Tea Party not dictate the direction of the United States.

It appears that we are witnessing the birth of another grassroots protest movement; the great difference between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party though is that Occupy Wall Street fights for the well-being and future of the average working American.

It strikes at an essential problem in the United States: the heart of America lies in small business owners, manufacturers and hardworking Americans across the country, not millionaires who sit in fancy offices down on Wall Street who own four houses, actually use the word summer as a verb and are now gauging the American consumer just to make a larger profit.

Americans today, particularly college students and twenty-somethings, are seeing their futures increasingly clouded by the dark cloud of burgeoning student loan debt. For others we are being schemed in more immediate ways: I just recently closed my Citibank checking account because they were going to charge me $20 a month to own a checking account with less than $15,000 in it.  I don’t know about anyone else at college, but that amount is a faraway dream for me still.

It is infuriating to have grown up in the 90s believing that our nation’s economy would be strong, and there to support us after we finished school. Now, as I stand on that cusp as a senior, I cannot believe that I have to close my checking account essentially because I am a student who works part-time for minimum wage.

This movement is morally just. Increasingly the United States is becoming a banana republic and students, the poor and the middle class are being squeezed for all we are worth, which is becoming less and less. According to a recent article published in The New York Times, the average annual salary of the richest 20 percent of New Yorkers is roughly $371,000 versus an average of $9,000 for the poorest 20 percent.

There is something fundamentally wrong in a society where people are charged money to access the money they worked hard to earn. Frankly, we are just mad that while most of us working Americans trim our budgets and try to save money, Wall Street and bank executives are still getting bailouts, multi-million dollar bonuses and paying a lower tax rate than working Americans do.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this great movement has been President Obama’s silence. His Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, recently said he “wasn’t sure if [Occupy Wall Street] was a good thing” and Obama has been effectively silent. Are you kidding me? This movement represents exactly the kind of populist anger that he needs to win reelection and he remains silent.

Occupy Wall Street has the potential to be an American form of the Arab Spring; it has the potential to be a thrilling, democratic movement to restore power to the people and take it away from K Street lobbyists, Wall Street bankers and stock brokers. Many who oppose the Occupy Wall Street movement claim that it is provoking class warfare.

Why is that a bad thing? As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, we need to take a stand to keep the American Dream alive for all Americans, not just the rich ones.  Luckily, the origin of the movement is just a train ride away, and we can be a part of it.