The Occupy Wall Street resistance movement reminds me of a scene from the movie “Network” from the 70’s. The main character got fed up with the mainstream media and yelled, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. So echo the protestors the last few weeks on Wall Street. College students make up a large majority of these protestors who claim they are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. According to an unofficial poll conducted by the Occupy Wall Street movement, 64.2% of respondents who support the movement are under age 34.

What do college students want?

One college student spoke up when asked why he was adding his voice to the protestors:

“I am occupying Wall Street because it is my future, my generations’ future, that is at stake,” said Linnea Palmer Paton, 23, a student at New York University. “Inspired by the peaceful occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo, tonight we are are coming together in Times Square to show the world that the power of the people is an unstoppable force of global change. Today, we are fighting back against the dictators of our country – the Wall Street banks – and we are winning.”

Along with having a strong anti-bank message and anti-corporate greed platform, students are calling for creditors to forgive student loans. Students who are saddled with debt claim they are unable to find jobs, pay back the loans, or even sustain a living due to the economy and they blame the Wall Street “fat cats” for causing this problem. MoveOn.org has drafted a national petition that has already collected 600,000 signatures requesting that all student loan debt be forgiven. Students are also fed up with rising tuition costs and college costs in general.

Will they be successful?

Dissatisfaction with government has always been a part of our country’s framework. Protesting can bring about change and the simple fact that the movement has gained support and press speaks to the fact that they have at least gotten government’s attention and perhaps started a dialogue. Students may be flocking to protest; but with an agenda all over the place or strong political support, it’s hard to see that long-term change will result.

Linnea M. Palmer Paton, a grad student at NYU, heard about the protest on Saturday and decided to join to promote environmental awareness. Palmer Paton said she hopes Occupy Wall Street will at least serve as a reminder to her generation that it must find a political voice:

“Numbers say that we don’t vote that much and I think that’s very dangerous, not only for democracy but also our society. If you don’t have an informed democratic society that actually goes out and votes and continues a public dialogue about what is right and just and fair, then you end up with corporate control of the government.”

Do you agree or disagree with this movement?

This has certainly become a volatile subject for debate. On one hand, it’s clear that banks have almost gotten a free pass as far as raping the consumer. Government is most assuredly corrupt and irresponsible in baling out these corporations and banks.

On the other hand, how responsible is the consumer for making unwise financial choices? Is it fair or right to forgive student loan debt when so many have responsibly been making payments and there are so many payment options available to indebted students? At what point do we start taking responsibility for our own actions and stop blaming government or Wall Street corporations for our lack of self-control when it comes to financial choices?

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