Occupy Wall Street protests are staying at the top of the news across the country this week after students across the country hit the streets in a planned general strike — mostly in reaction to the pepper spray incident at the UC Davis campus, and to planned tuition hikes at public universities.
Not all went off without a hitch — nearly 500 protesters were confronted by a heavy police presence in Manhattan at Baruch College, where students came out to demonstrate against planned $300 year tuition hikes, which are set to take place over the next five years. (UPDATE: The CUNY Board of Trustees’ planned tuition hikes were approved last night, in a 15-to-1 vote, which will bring tuition up to $6,300 a semester by 2015.)
Natalia Abrams, media spokesperson and founder of Occupy Colleges, joined the show to give us a briefing on the protests, and some of the issues surrounding tuition hikes, student debt, and transparency in the management of our public universities and colleges.
“We think that there should be a tuition hike moratorium until we can figure out where our money’s going. Most of our schools are run just like corporations, where they’re run by a Board of Regents that aren’t even elected, they’re appointed, and we have no real say in where our money’s going. There’s tons of campuses that are being built in the prestige, but we don’t know where our money is going, especially when our teachers are being fired and our classes are becoming cut and it’s becoming increasingly harder to get out in four years at a four-year university, which just incurs more debt,” says Ms. Abrams.
Ms. Abrams says that the influence of money in politics is also a critical issue for Occupy Colleges. “We think that’s the first step, to even the student loan situation and to tuition hikes and economic injustices, that our government can’t be bought. Until we get the money out of Congress and stop having a bought Congress, we’re not going to be able to fight these issues fairly. So that’s one of our first steps — really organizing next year, to make that clear to politicians, that we no longer want the lobbyists to run our country,” said Ms. Abrams.
Animal New York: “F*ck the Board of Trustees”