Watching the news the past few days, I’m seeing student protests at the UCLA campus where I go to school. The same thing is happening at UC Berkeley and other California college campuses. I’m hearing angry students talking about rising tuition, and cuts to education and talk about Occupy Wilshire Blvd, where 11 students were arrested last week.
But I’m a science major, living off campus, so I’m really a step away from all the commotion. Plus, I’m a senior, so I really don’t think all this applies to me. I’m outta here in a year. Even if I do have a part-time job working for LA Labor 411, a union publication, I still don’t see the impact Occupy UCLA has on my life.
So the other day, I’m walking down Bruinwalk (UCLA’s main walkway through campus) and I see a sign next to our Bruin bear that said “These tuition hikes are unBEARable.” Clever sign, I think. Next to the sign was an Occupy UCLA table. Okay, it’s time for me to see first-hand what the movement is all about for UCLA students.
Turns out the Occupy UCLA movement was started by a UCLA Labor Studies student who wanted to educate students not only about problems in the UC system, but about the growing economic gap between rich and poor that is happening across the United States. Not surprisingly, Occupy UCLA is protesting the increased tuition fees and urging students to protect education for the 99%, saying we need to reinvest in higher education. Hmmm, maybe they do have a point.
I realize it is no coincidence that the Occupy UCLA movement was inspired by the labor studies program. Like the labor movement, Occupy believes in closing the huge disparity between the rich and the poor. Labor unions are fighting for the middle class, and believe the corporate 1% should give their workers a fair wage and a safe working environment. They also believe that students need to get an affordable education, and that as a society we have to invest in educating the 99%.
After all, we are the next generation of workers. If legislators and business don’t invest in us, who will they employ in the coming years? Who will find the cure for cancer? Who will invent the next I-pad? Who will man future space flights? Education is the ticket to a brighter future for all of us.
These are the reasons we need to support the Occupy movement. Our future depends on it.