Students join global Occupy movement
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 14:09
A group of students have decided to create their own chapter in the global Occupy Movement here at Seton Hall due to their unhappiness with tuition cuts for incoming freshmen.
The movement, which takes the basis for its name from the Occupy Wall Street movement, is called Occupy Seton Hall, and focuses its efforts on the cost of tuition here at Seton Hall rather than the general financial crisis in the US, according to the Media and Social Networking Manager of the group, Eli Zucker.
Students in the Occupy Seton Hall group are displeased with the tuition cuts being put into place for incoming freshmen, and believe that all current students should be subject to the decrease, Zucker said.
The tuition decrease will be available for students enrolling directly from high school in September 2012, and will cut the normal tuition of $31,440 for in-state students to $10,104, which is the same price as the Rutgers in-state tuition rate, according to the Seton Hall University website.
"Why is it that the incoming freshmen are the only ones who will get the ability to come out with a little less than $50-$60 thousand at the end of their career?" Zucker said. "We all bleed, sweat, and breathe blue, so what about the rest of us?"
Though Zucker is the Media and Social Networking Manager and organizes the Facebook page for the group, he is not Occupy Seton Hall's main organizer, according to Zucker.
The group's leader asked not to be named due to concern that he might face backlash from the Seton Hall administration and community in general, Zucker said.
The group has held four discussions so far, all of which have been "information sessions" conducted by members of the group in their respective classes. According to Zucker, the group has an e-mail list of about 200 students who have attended or shown interest in these events.
"I think it's unfair that the incoming freshmen get to pay a lower tuition while the rest of us have to pay full tuition. It's almost like the rest of us are paying for what the incoming freshmen aren't paying," Jennifer O'Donnell, a member of the Occupy Seton Hall group, said. "If one group of people gets to pay less, we all should. Why should we suffer when we didn't do anything at all?"
However, some students do not support the movement, and feel that it lacks a vocal presence on campus by not reaching out to a broader audience.
"The lack of general information about the movement illustrates the weakness of an overall student voice," Ryan LaValle, sophomore Diplomacy student, said. "A movement should occur to fulfill the needs of an entire community, rather than mirror the democratic movement in other areas of the nation."
According to a post on the group's Facebook page, the weekly discussion events will continue, but the group will also add events with more of a focus on organizing students to act. Zucker added that their future plans include tabling and informing more students of their message.
"Our ultimate goal for the group is to be the 1 percent. Not the richest 1 percent, but the 1 percent," Zucker said. "The 1 percent who instead of sitting around complaining about how unfair this all is, took it into our own hands and decided to do something about it."
LaValle believes that without concrete goals and a unified message, the movement may lose momentum causing it to fail.
"I don't think Occupy Seton Hall will accomplish its goals, as the entire campus and student population has not been targeted or informed about the movement," LaValle said. "The organization of such a movement does not seem to be perfected; it is rather a sloppy arrangement of young students who want to argue about something."
The Occupy Seton Hall group has no relation to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or the more local, Occupy Newark group, though Zucker believes his group is a coherent version of OWS due to Occupy Wall Street's lack of an apparent leader.
Ethan Arnowitz can be reached at email@example.com.