Students have planned a walkout and march in support of Occupy Philadelphia.
Students plan to stage a walkout and march in solidarity for Occupy Philadelphia this Friday, Oct. 21, at noon.
“The thing about Temple is that it’s a public school. Faculty and students are all equally affected by budget cuts and state funding, so I hope [through the Occupy movements] everyone realizes that something in this system is not working,” Diane Isser, administrator of a Facebook group for the event, said.
Isser, a senior sociology and political science major, said that this is something everyone should be passionate about.
Isser stresses that a rally in which students leave class is in actuality a rally for more funding.
“Think about the amount of classes people miss because they’re too hungover to go. It’s better to miss one class to join a nationwide movement and utilize our education to make a difference and change things for the better,” Isser said.
Walter Smolarek, a freshman education major and member of Occupy Philadelphia’s outreach working committee, said he helped organize the walkout to mobilize more students for the movement.
“The slogan is ‘We are the 99 percent,’ right? I think that absolutely applies to university students,” Smolarek said, referencing budget cuts to higher education and tuition hikes.
Smolarek said the walkout isn’t directed at administration, but at big banks and state local government.
“We hope this is a starting point. We don’t expect to have daily walkouts or anything like that,” Smolarek said. “It’s important that we join the growing movement.”
A declaration of solidarity was released by the students, calling on their peers to join the movement.
Demands listed in the document include adequate funding for public universities, an end to tuition hikes, a freeze on student loan interest rates, student debt forgiveness, an implementation of measures to make higher education more accessible to communities of color and programs to address the unemployment crisis facing young people.
“This is just the specific grievances and the specific demands of students at Temple University and we think it’s pretty universally applicable to all students,” Smolarek said.
Other local universities are planning similar walkouts, Smolarek said.
“The idea of a walkout occurred to several of us independently, it being rather obvious and natural at the current juncture,” Justin Murphy, a fourth-year international relations graduate student, said. “Temple missed the recent effort of a nationwide walkout, so it was obvious that we should just move forward with one as soon as it would be feasible. Walkouts are happening everywhere.”
Ethan Svarczkopf, a freshman secondary education major, said he has followed the occupation since the beginning and will be in attendance Friday.
“[The walkout] is to show student support for the occupation. More importantly that we, as students and the future of this country, refuse to sit idle and watch the protests. Instead we’re going to go and be heard,” Svarczkopf said.
The event was created out of a group titled Occupy Philly Temple University Contingent.
“I will be drowning in debt after college and I fear that years and money spent for an education will go to waste on a job in food service or retail,” Svarczkopf said.
In addition to participating in the occupation at City Hall, students have organized rallies on and off campus, both in support and against the movement.
“I think if everyone walked out on Friday, it’d be awesome and I’d totally be down for that,” Timothy Flanagan, a senior marketing major, said. “I think people need to speak up, and that’s our job as citizens.”
Amanda Plaksin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.