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Occupy Iowa City: Organizers encourage UI walkout

BY MELISSA DAWKINS | NOVEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Occupy Iowa City protesters are hoping to educate University of Iowa students about the Occupy movement — by encouraging them to cut class.

Following an Occupy Iowa City forum on Nov. 9, occupiers encouraged students to attend an information session about aligning their concerns with the Occupy movement.

But organizers said they do not have any specific demands for the university.

"I think that the walkout addresses — it's just giving voice that we aren't happy with the way things are," said walkout organizer and UI senior Justine Scattarelli. "And we don't have specific, concrete answers because those are really hard to find, but we want to make it clear that we're unhappy with how it is."

 

Organizers are encouraging students to leave class at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday to attend information activities on the Pentacrest. The walkout is scheduled to run in conjunction with a similar student strike in New York on Thursday.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said, however, that there are specific guidelines student assemblies on the Pentacrest must comply with.

"They would need to contact the Office of Student Life, and there are some policies and guidelines," he said. "For example, the use of amplified audio is not permitted during class time."

Still, organizers said at a Sunday planning meeting they are interested in mobilizing not only students, but also faculty to walk out of classes.

"I think it would be great if other teachers recognize the proclivity of TAs especially, and graduate students, and also the harsh financial situations undergrads are put in," Schultz said.

One undergrad who plans to participate is UI freshman William Goldberg, an organizer of the newly approved student organization "Students for Occupy."

Goldberg said the goal of the new group is to provide students with a nonpartisan forum to create a dialogue about relevant issues and to make Occupy accessible to students.

"Our goal is to teach students and have some discussions that haven't been started," he said.

At the Sunday planning meeting, organizers noted they have a substantial amount of work to do to before Thursday to mobilize students.

Organizers said they are anxious to see how many students and faculty will participate in the walkout.

"It's important that the administration knows what we want," Scattarelli said. "But in order to get that, we need a lot of people on board with us."

John Keller, the dean of UI Graduate College, said he had not heard about the walkout but is not surprised that graduate students support the Occupy movement.

"That's something that they're fully within their rights to do," he said. "… I don't think it's anything directed at the university."


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