On Oct. 13, approximately eight students gathered in Adams Plaza as part of Occupy Mills, a nationwide college campus walkout, in conjunction with the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The movement at Mills began with Seniors Lauren Guridi and Grace Osborne, who were both interested in the Occupy protests across the nation and the Bay Area. Their mutual interest brought them together to organize Occupy Mills.
“We were both interested in Occupy Wall Street, and I just saw the website for Occupy Colleges and thought we should be doing this,” Guridi said. “I had already taken quite a personal interest, as well as Grace had, in the movements going on around the country and our local Occupations — Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. We felt that Mills had a lot to contribute.”
Those who are part of Occupy Mills hope to raise awareness of the movements in the area by getting as many students involved and participating in local events, such as Occupy Oakland. According to Guridi, these students plan to camp out, help cook meals for fellow protesters and join the general assembly. This will not be the only time Occupy Mills protests with Occupy Oakland.
“We’re in the works (to get) connected with them,” Guridi said.
Guridi and Osborne cited Mills’ commitment to social justice as a reason to keep spreading the word about the Occupy movement. Members of Occupy Mills are also trying to include Mills faculty in their events, though so far, no faculty have joined in the protests at Mills.
“The whole slogan and idea of ‘We are the 99 Percent’ encompasses everyone here at Mills, including faculty,” Guridi said, referring to the national slogan of the Occupy movement. “It’s a great thing to get (faculty) on board because it helps students feel more comfortable with getting involved — almost like it’s a nod from the professors that (says), ‘Yes, this is a good thing and we support it.’”
Occupy Mills plans to collect donations that will help the protesters in Oakland, such as blankets and socks, and hopes to connect with the Reuse Depot at Mills to gather these items. A bake sale is also being organized to raise funds to support the local Occupy movements.
“Because we’re not an official club — we’re just part of this grassroots movement — we want to make sure we’re not stepping on anyone’s toes here on the campus. We have a lot of great ideas, but getting them to actually happen, we just have to (make sure) we’re not breaking any rules,” Guridi explained.
Along with Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide, students at Mills have also been seen sporting orange arm bands on campus. The arm band signifies a student’s solidarity with the Occupy movements, including Occupy Mills. Organizers have been distributing the arm bands on campus over the last week.
The next protest at Mills will be a part of Occupy Colleges’ National Solidarity Teach-In on Nov. 2 or 3, depending on a consensus vote.
The Occupy Colleges’ online Teach-In how-to guide describes a teach-in as something that will “create an open discussion time with professors and students with no defined ending time as to give everyone a chance to speak and contribute to the discussion.”
“I think this is the solid next stage,” Osborne said. “It’s far enough in advance for people to know about it.”
There are high hopes to see many students participating in the Teach-In because the support for the movement is visibly growing on campus, according to Occupy Mills organizers.
“We’re trying to get a lot of people involved to come out to that to make it a successful event,” Guridi said. “I mean, it’ll be a successful event no matter how many people there are, even if it’s just the six of us again — or eight of us — that were there the other day. But we see a lot more orange arm bands around campus right now.”