Occupy Isla Vista is Here

By Sarah Kreuz

Photo by Isabel Atkinson

Occupy Isla Vista held its first on-campus event, a teach-in, held in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and with other teach-ins being held at college campuses nationwide on Wednesday Nov. 2 on the lawn in front of Parking Lot 22. The purpose was to spread awareness of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and act as a lead-up to the larger Occupy Isla Vista event held on Saturday Nov. 5.

“They have sold our privacy as a commodity,” read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, a reading of which started out the Occupy IV event. “They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.”

The crowd shouted in agreement with “boos” and “no more” in response to the statement, and multiple speakers shared opinions and knowledge regarding the movement.

KCSB Advisor Elizabeth Robinson and KCSB General Manager Eric Wolff took the stage to speak about democratic media and how censorship is everywhere.

“If we are not being served by the media we have a right to change it,” said Wolff. “We own it fundamentally.”

University of California Santa Barbara Professor of Sociology Howard Winant spoke about the importance of taking responsibility of your own education.  He highlighted that the truth will not be handed to you, but something you have to demand.  He emphasized the importance of questioning professors and making your classes relevant to what is happening today and relate the movement back to democracy.

The Occupy Movement is an  “effort to reinvent freedom, reinvent democracy,” Winant said, “We have to do it ourselves. No one self can do it for us.”

After Winant finished, the microphone was open for anyone to voice their opinions.

Michael Schirtzer, an organizer of the event, recited a poem about the movement highlighting the inequalities the 99 percent is faced with and encouraged others to “arm yourself with knowledge.”

Another student took to the stage and pointed out that we are all standing on a lawn, something originally invented by landowners to show how wealthy they were.

Organizers of the teach-in were sure to give every single person in attendance a chance to express his or her thoughts.  A table was set up encouraging people to make a poster and write on it whatever they wished.  Some read, “Occupy Everything” or “Art is Political.” Freedom of speech was not only supported at the event but it was promoted in a safe, judgment-free environment.

Some students were surprised that the movement was on campus, and many remarked the Teach-In to be the first event that some had attended and were inquisitive and supportive of the movement. UCSB student Megan Sholty said she was “shocked that it’s reached the campus. It’s going to be historical.”