CAFÉ Holds Forum on Occupy Movement

The Occupy Wall Street movement arrived at Andove, as students discussed the recent activism in a forum held by Community Awareness For Everyone (CAFÉ) this past Tuesday. The event provided students with information about the Occupy Wall Street movement, a movement that aims to minimize class disparities, and offered a forum for open discussion about the protests. Robert Rush ’14, who organized the forum and guided the conversation, said, “We noticed that Occupy doesn’t really have a set goal. The leaders of CAFÉ felt the need to organize a space for students to share what they see as the goals of the movement, and together decipher the main intentions of the protesters.” Before delving into discussing criticisms of the movement, attendees clarified the goals of the protests. Most students critiqued the movement because it did not have a clear, united purpose. Daniel Gottfried ’12, a CAFÉ board member, said, “Individuals are clearly frustrated and are looking to solve certain goals, but they don’t have one united mission.” In evaluating the undirected nature of the Occupy protests, Tailor Dortona ’12 drew a parallel to unrest during the 1960s. She said, “Those [1960s] protests were very specified whereas in this, [Occupy] is different because it’s just not focused and because they [the protesters] don’t have that focus. The general population doesn’t know what that focus is.” “You can never get anything done unless you have a specific focus,” Dortona added. The group also debated whether the movement’s lack of a central leader was beneficial or detrimental to the effectiveness of the protests. Some students said that lack of a public leader was synonymous with lack of organization, and that little can be accomplished without organization and focus. Other students were in favor of a leader-free movement, referencing the success of the Arab Spring, a string of protests that rattled the Middle East last winter and spring and were organized through the Internet with no clear leader. Students argued that the lack of a leader allowed for people to bring their own purpose to the protests. Others argued that in a democracy, the people should have the power to unite and protest. “A single leader makes a movement more susceptible to attack,” said Gottfried. Christopher Blackwood ’12 predicted that the movement is still premature and that a natural leader will arise in time. Rush felt the event was successful because students from different grades participated in the discussion and presented a range of opinions on the movement. Gottfried said, “I love being able to have these types of uncensored discussions where the advisor lets us, the students, have the discussion,” Linda Griffith, Director of the Community and Multicultural Development Office (CAMD) and the faculty advisor of CAFÉ, said she was glad to see younger members taking charge of the event. Alex Anderlik ’14 said, “[The discussion was] a healthy way to bring different viewpoints together and make a consensual agreement.” Gottfried also said that the issue of the Occupy movement was very appropriate for a CAFÉ forum because of its timeliness. “CAFÉ tries to address issues that are relevant now,” he said. “This is a big issue at Andover because there is economic disparity at this school. There are kids that are in the 1 percent, and there are kids that are not.” Gottfried added, “It is interesting to be at a school where you can see both viewpoints and also see where they come together.”