She is the curly-haired rebel with a cause, known for organizing protests and counter-protests around Main Campus. Diane Isser, a junior political science and sociology major, takes political action unapologetically, and was the driving force behind the mountaintop removal coal mining protests, the Troy Davis protest on Main Campus and Temple’s involvement in Occupy Philly.
Isser said her interest in political activism began her freshman year when she took a general education political science course.
“The course inspired me to pay closer attention to what is going on in the political world,” Isser said.
Isser said she finds it interesting to watch a movement that she feels strongly about grow. Organizing several movements on Main Campus has helped her to take direct political action for causes she feels passionate about.
“When organizing the Occupy movement it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Isser said. “There were revolts going on all over the world and it just seemed like the right time to make sure our voices were heard.”
In October 2011, Isser organized student mobilization efforts in solidarity with Occupy Philly, for which she emphasized the importance of the classroom walkout that was planned on Main Campus.
“The act of walking out is to show [those] who don’t believe we care that we do and refuse to sit idle and watch the protest, without our voices being heard,” Isser said.
In December 2011, Isser and several other students were arrested for participating in a sit-in at the PNC Bank located on Liacouras Walk. On the same day, the University Investment Committee was scheduled to meet and discuss the university’s financial and ethical relationship with PNC, but students claimed they were not given a voice during the meeting.
“We spent 20 hours in jail, went to court and were given a $200 fine,” Isser said in regards to the consequences of their protest.
After the incident, she said she and her fellow protestors spent hours talking to others about their experiences with police brutality.
Though many local and global issues have caught Isser’s attention, the plight of the prison system in America is what she is most passionate about. She said Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow” impacted the way she views the prison system.
“The prison system is racist, many people don’t question it however, I feel it is important to question,” Isser said.
Isser said she believes the best way to organize is through word-of-mouth, and by people making an effort to talk to people in their classes.
“I look up to my friends Walter Smolarek and Brianne Murphy, and other people who are really invested in political activism,” Isser said.
Smolarek and Murphy were with Isser when she was organizing all of these movements, and were arrested on the same day as the PNC protest at the Occupy Philly eviction.
“I don’t know if I’ve learned anything from organizing these movements, actually,” Isser said. “It might have happened better if I had learned better techniques. Maybe I learned that there are ultimately spectacles everywhere.”
Isser said she hopes that this is only the starting point of allowing students’ voices to be heard in an effort to make the changes they want to see in the world.
After graduating, Isser said she hopes to work as a teacher and political organizer.
Priscilla Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.