Occupy Mills drafts purpose statement

By and
November 7, 2011

Occupy Mills leaders Grace Osborne (far left) and Jessica Knapp (far right) converse while Campanil editor Joann Pak reports. (Bridget Stagnitto)

Occupy Mills will draft a statement of purpose to be editable and viewable by Mills community members in Google Docs, a free web-based Office suite, within the next few days. The final statement will be officially voted on after a month of group drafting.

The group met on Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Tea Shop. Members present discussed upcoming events, including an Occupy-themed bake sale, multiple info-sessions and a teach-in at the College.

The meeting, which ran for slightly over an hour, was small — consisting of  two  students and one joining via Skype.

Group members said a statement of purpose in the case of Occupy Mills would be a statement of solidarity with the Occupy movement. Members agreed that the statement was not about making demands or stating exact goals, such as asking Mills to donate money, but that it would mainly be a declaration of solidarity with Occupy Oakland. Members felt this approach to its statement of purpose would make the group more inclusive and possibly a rallying point for all students.

“We need a statement of purpose as soon as possible,” said Grace Osborne, a senior who helped found Occupy Mills in October with co-founder Lauryn Guridi. “A lot of the reason we don’t have a lot of physical, bodily Mills support is because people are still confused about what we’re doing. We’re not camping out at Mills. We don’t hate Mills.”

After agreeing on the necessity of the statement of purpose, those present voted unanimously in favor of creating the document collectively through Google Docs rather than trying to organize times for all Mills community members to be in the same place at the same time, because many have conflicting schedules. Using Google Docs will allow any user to edit a document that has been shared with them. Occupy Mills invites anyone who wants to be part of this process to contribute once it has been created.

Those present strongly supported holding a teach-in within the next few weeks. A teach-in, which is a meeting between professors and students aimed towards mutual information-sharing, would demonstrate visible faculty support of the movement.

In addition to the teach-in, Occupy Mills hopes to hold an Occupy-themed bake sale to benefit Occupy Oakland, featuring such treats as “Occu-pies” and “Occu-cakes,” according to Osborne.

Another plan in the works by the group is an info session where students and faculty could come to learn about the larger movement and partake in an open discussion about various aspects of the protests.  Different from a teach-in, the info session would aim to provide general information about the Occupy movement. Knapp suggested the debate between proponents of violence and anti-violence in the movement could be a topic for the info session, sparked recently by the actions of the Black Bloc group during the General Strike on Nov. 2, which included smashing windows and other forms of vandalism.

For the moment, the group decided they would not release any statements regarding their position on violence vs. non-violence in order to keep from alienating interested people.

“For us, that should be a non-issue as it has nothing to do with our group,” said Osborne in regard to the debates about non-violence and general denouncing of Black Bloc. “This group is about supporting people.”

Though the number present was small compared to the group’s first info session, which had over 25 people in attendence, Guridi, Osborne and Knapp seemed unphased.  Some drop-off was to be expected due to the fast approach of finals, Osborne said.

Online, Occupy Mills has over 250 “likes,” which group members feel suggests considerable student support.  Most of Occupy Mills’ organizing activity takes place online.  Anyone can post on their Facebook page and see upcoming events or even suggest new ones.

“In regard to Mills’ history surrounding protests, it’s only right to reach out to the movement,” Knapp said.

All future events are still to be announced, but Osborne launched the Google Doc Monday night. She hopes to serve her “Occu-pies” and “Occu-cakes” by next week.

The Occupy Mills group is also in the process of forming coalitions with other nearby colleges to form a cross-college committee, which would join together to share resources and create a college presence within the movement and on college campuses.

Guiridi, an Occupy Mills co-founder, gave news about the continuing formation of a cross-college committee, which so far includes Laney College, California College of the Arts (CCA), UC Berkeley and Berkeley Community College. Member Jessica Knapp, a sophomore, said she has talks underway with a University of San Francisco student about branching across the bridge.

“Our thought process with the committee is to get all the colleges together to share resources, tactics and to just create a college presence,” Guiridi said.


Occupy Mills drafts purpose statement was published on November 7, 2011 in News

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