Since cities across the country evicted Occupy Wall Street encampments in their parks, the movement is finding itself quickly off of the nightly news and the front pages. Searching for relevancy in a rapidly changing news cycle, the former Zuccotti Park campers have taken on a new cause.
Is it poverty in blighted neighborhoods? A coat drive for the city’s homeless? Protesting for affordable housing?
Occupy Wall Street has overlooked all of these possibilities to instead join with a handful of CUNY Baruch College students protesting a 31 percent tuition hike. Baruch, part of the public City University of New York system, is one of the most affordable schools in the country, where 70 percent of full-time students receive financial aid. A 31 percent tuition raise amounts to about $300, less than the cost of books in a semester for its students. While the average cost of college at public universities in the United States is $8,244 for in-state students, CUNY students pay $5,130 per year. That cost pales in comparison to private universities where students pay, on average, more than $28,000 a year.
Despite being the most ethnically diverse campus in the nation, most of the protests surrounding the tuition hikes have looked like a sea of white. Is this protest being planned by actual students or just bored former Zuccotti Park residents?
Even in local papers, coverage of the Baruch protests has been sparse. Many in the Occupy movement attribute this to a media conspiracy, but most New York City residents see the occupiers for what they are: spoiled rich white kids looking for their next social justice fix, not even very good at picking out their pet cause anymore. The occupiers have shut down one of the most affordable education options for adults in the city. More than 40 percent of CUNY’s students work part-time or more, yet their classes, which have already been paid for, have been canceled two days in a row by a large group of young white people with enough disposable income to allow them to camp out jobless for more than two months.
Considering Occupy Wall Street claims to speak for 99 percent of Americans, they have quite an interesting way of showing it. Just in New York, they have attempted to shut down the subway system and have successfully closed an affordable public university — not exactly where the Michael Bloombergs and George Soroses of the city spend their time.