Occupy Burlington

The Bailey/Howe library is now occupied. Students and professors gathered outside Bailey/Howe Oct. 10 for a teach-in in order to make more students aware of the events occurring on Wall Street. “We are a grassroots coalition who works to represent the material interests of the student body and stands in solidarity with the staff and faculty’s struggles on campus,” one sign stated. Senior Tyler Wilkinson said he was part of a group of students interested in raising awareness about the Occupy Wall Street protests. “Our goal here is to have a forum, ask questions, give critiques and get people talking about this on campus,” Wilkinson said. A number of students took part in the People’s Mic, a name for the call and response method in which the crowd would repeat whatever the speaker was saying. “We have power, and together we can overcome the oppression of an elite few,” first-year Nick Gerber said during his speech. “Corporate greed doesn’t stop on Wall Street,” senior Avery Pittman said.  “It’s right here and it’s our job to shut it up.” Some professors came out to speak as well. “This offers for the first time in a generation the chance for real change,” professor Helen Scott said. Professor Elaine McCrate said that she was happy to see students protesting, but that she hoped to see about 8,000 more people interested in making a difference. “I’m really glad finally to see students protesting what’s going on, protesting the budget cutbacks that impact higher education, protesting the way the University has been managed that has resulted in higher and higher tuition costs and arguably in some instances a lower quality of education,” McCrate said. A few students participating were part of the Students for University Democracy club. “We’ve been looking at what’s been going on in Wall Street, looking at what’s been going on on the UVM campus and we’re just trying to fit those all together because this is a community and I think we need to start acting like one more,” junior Jamie Jackson said. Besides the Bailey/Howe event, an Occupy Wall Street support rally brought together over 250 Burlington residents and students to City Hall Park on Oct. 9.  Protestors walked down Church Street, carried homemade signs and chanted anti-corporation slogans. “All day, all week, occupy wall street,” the protesters said in unison.  Some protesters played instruments or wore face masks from the movie V for Vendetta while others held up signs with corporate themes such as, “Goldman sucks.” Burlington police were seen at the event monitoring pedestrian traffic.  This is the second week of the movement, which initially brought 150 protestors on Oct. 3.  “We are here in solidarity with the protesters on Wall Street,” their Facebook group stated. “We wish to raise local awareness of this action, which is now world-wide.” But protestors on the streets are not the only ones who seem to be concerned with these national issues. Ben and Jerry’s became the first high-profile company to support the Occupy Wall Street movement on Oct. 6, according to the press release. “We know the media will either ignore you or frame the issue as to who may be getting pepper sprayed rather than addressing the despair and hardships borne by so many,” states Ben and Jerry’s board of directors.  “All this goes on while corporate profits continue to soar and millionaires whine about paying a bit more in taxes. And we have not even mentioned the environment.” The Occupy Burlington movement is set to meet every Sunday in City Hall Park as long as the Wall Street protests continue.