Widgets Magazine

Faculty, students “occupy the future”

Billy Gallagher co-authored this report.

More than 250 students, faculty and community members gathered at teach-ins across campus and a rally in White Plaza on Friday, Dec. 9, for “Breakthrough: Occupy the Future,” part of a series of events organized by faculty and students to foster discussion of the Occupy movement and inequality in America. Preceding the event, The Boston Review published a collection of faculty opinions and The Daily published a collection of student opinions.


Six faculty members signed the “Occupy the Future” statement: Paul Ehrlich, biology; David Grusky, sociology; David Laitin, political science; Rob Reich, political science; Debra Satz, philosophy; and Doug McAdam, sociology.


“This isn’t a protest rally…this is a rally so you can learn what you think about inequality,” Reich said in a speech about politics and inequality at a teach-in at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons.


Teach-ins across campus included discussions about healthcare, education, race, the arts and the environment and included faculty representatives from across campus.


The rally in White Plaza featured music, poetry and speeches and was followed by an open forum in the Oak Room at Tresidder.


“It’s great to see so many members of our community come together to get better educated about these issues facing our nation,” said Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Julie Lythcott-Haims ’89 in an interview with The Daily. “I’m really impressed by the collaborative effort of students and faculty to put this event on and I think the turnout is great.”


“Today is Stanford’s stance on figuring out what our role is in all of this,” said Kelsei Wharton ’12, former ASSU vice president and co-chair of political action for the Stanford NAACP.


Stanford University President Emeritus Don Kennedy spoke at the beginning of the rally, commenting on the need for alternative fuels and encouraging Stanford to lend a helping hand to the University of California, Berkeley.


“The University of California is being starved by the state of California’s budget,” Kennedy said. “You all have it so good compared to those guys [at UC schools] that they ought to get some serious help from you…Stanford isn’t Stanford without Cal and Cal isn’t Cal without Stanford so go give them some damn help!”


Allison Anoll, political science PhD. ’15, drew a lesson from campus architecture and history.


“I want to tell you the first thing I noticed about Stanford when I arrived here two years ago,” Anoll said. “We have an actual ivory tower in the middle of this campus. That tower is named after a president who 80 years ago also oversaw a period of tent encampments in this country.”


Meagan Moroney ’10 spoke about her experience protesting in the Occupy San Francisco encampment.


“We got raided three days ago by Ed Lee and his police state,” Moroney said. “They did wipe out our entire tent city. But what I told the police and what I want to tell all of you is they can take away our tents. They can take away our food, our medical supplies. They can take all of that. But all we need for this movement is our brains. Our intelligence, our souls and our hearts. And until we die, they cannot take those away.”


“There’s been disparate groups all trying to fight at this problem for decades but they’ve never coalesced into a big enough group that the government had to say, ‘I can’t ignore it any longer’ and it’s finally happening,” Moroney added later in an interview with The Daily.


Erica Castello ’12 delivered a poem at the rally and spoke with The Daily about Stanford’s role among the different Occupy protest locations.


“There’s this common misconception about Occupy that we need to tie [the locations] together thematically and the brilliance of this movement is the acknowledgement that each of these locations has something different to offer,” Castello said in an interview with The Daily. “At Stanford what we have to offer is, basically, critical thinking and diversity, just by nature of our admissions process. I’m extremely proud to be part of this because it’s organic and it does reflect our strengths as opposed to our weaknesses.”


“It was a really powerful event that I think was done by Stanford for Stanford and it gave me personally a lot to think about,” said Associate Dean and Director of Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) Nanci Howe about the rally. “And I hope it inspired a lot of students to think more deeply about the direction of the country.”


SAL assisted with the operational planning for event, according to Howe.


Students had mixed, but mostly positive, responses to the teach-ins and rally.


“I though the teach-ins were really good,” said Annie Graham ‘14.“I think we respond well to intellectual discussions, but we’re not very good at rallying.”


“I think our country has a big social, economic and political problem right now,” said Liam McSweeney ‘15. “The only way to change that is to have citizens become aware of what’s happening right now. It was a good mix of having people fired up, but also having speakers offer good ideas and opinions on inequality.”


“I just wanted to show support for the movement and be a part of a group of students who care about what’s going on in the country, and want to change it,” said Natalie Hernandez ’14.


Brendan O’Byrne, Mary Harrison and Catherine Zaw contributed to this report.