SUNY New Paltz has been subjected to budget cuts and the removal of adjunct professors and as a result, students are speaking out as a group calling themselves “students with a common interest,” involved members said.
The Occupy movement on campus has become a platform for students to air their grievances and make their voices heard, member Roberto LoBianco said.
“Student voice has been marginalized for much too long,” LoBianco said.
The Occupy movement is establishing goals to break the current system and place the power in the hands of the students. According to member Deborah Walnicki, the group on campus has a different agenda than those in the town and village.
The group spent significant time getting more library hours and improving conditions. Walnicki said the library will soon renovate, closing a third of the library space and little is being done about this.
LoBianco said some of the concerns he and the group are addressing are the protection of adjunct workers and wage stability, workers rights and campus food services. Their goal is to fight against cuts to student services on campus and make it better for the campus community.
Although the campus Occupy group is working toward their goals, other students are confused by the purpose of the Occupy movements, both on and off campus. John Sotomayor, a fourth-year creative writing major, said he is not opposed to the Occupy movement itself but rather the location of the protests. He said the businesses in the town and village should not be blamed.
“I live on Main Street, like right across from the Wells Fargo bank,” Sotomayor said. “Bitches be drumming and chanting and blowing their vuvuzelas all up in front of my window and I’m like, shit man, this is New Paltz, we’re all hippies.”
Similarly, Ken Leverett, a fourth-year
organizational psychology major, said he does not feel the movement on campus is large enough to be effective. He said the campus group should team up with other Occupy movements in the Hudson Valley to create one outlet.
“I think the main flaw of the Occupy movement is the same thing that makes it great— it lacks leadership,” Leverett said. “Because it lacks leadership it is impervious to bribery but for this same reason it cannot hope to get mainstream attention — people need a face to identify with.”
“Students with a common interest” meet Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in front of the Student Union Multipurpose Room.