“Occupy everything!” cried of thousands of protestors around the United States and even the world at the end of 2011, as the 99 percent voiced their complaints against corporations, the government and big banks.
As the Occupy movement spread to campuses, a group of students picked up on the idea and decided to form a Stony Brook chapter of the movement, protesting against rising tuition fees and seemingly incongruous fees (the term “academic excellence” comes to mind).
Now, in semester two, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Occupy Stony Brook movement had been evicted from the agenda of on-campus activists, much the same way that the protestors were booted out of their inner-city encampments.
But last Monday, Occupy Stony Brook made a comeback in the form of somewhat abstract posters dotted throughout campus.
The most common poster showed a table of beer bottles and asked the viewer “Academic Excellence Fee or 100 cans of beer?” Confused? Some students were.
“I didn’t really understand what they meant,” said Leanne Skrabacz, a technological systems management major.
But according to the posters’ creator, who asked to remain nameless, the posters were intended to focus on issues “that hit close to home,” like the academic excellence fee that was announced at the end of last semester by the University.
The posters identified two items of great importance to the general student public—beer and money—and told readers to “protest the “bullshit” at the Occupy Stony Brook General Assembly meetings every Monday evening at 5:30.
“We had only a few new members,” said the anonymous poster designer. “I think if we do more and redesign the posters with our audience in mind, it could be more successful.”
Fellow occupier, Roger Palomeque, a senior computer engineering major is not so sure.
“There’s a disconnect in terms of communication,” said Palomeque. “Occupy Stony Brook is non-hierarchical; there’s no central authority.”
The anonymous poster designer agreed, saying that “there is no leadership,” but that there are advantages and disadvantages to the Occupy structure.
“The Occupy movement is a direct democracy, so all decisions and actions are much slower because you have to listen to everyone,” the designer said. “But changing would defeat part of the movement.”
The focus of this semester’s Occupy movement is a renouncement of the SUNY 2020 bill—a bill that allows state schools in New York to increase tuition fees by $300 per year for the next five years.
By occupying areas like the SAC lobby and putting up posters that appeal to a student’s sensibilities, Occupy Stony Brook is attempting to awaken a rebellion within the walls of Stony Brook and, according to our anonymous source, “get people interested in activism.”
Perhaps the next logical strategy will be to offer free beer at the General Assembly, instead of pictures of it.