By "the youthful 99 percent," I presume Finkelmeyer means the portion of the 99% that happens to be adult but not yet middle aged. I suppose, depending on how you define young, the percent might be something like 30%. But young people who find themselves at the lower end of the income scale have the least to gripe about. They're just starting out. The question is: Can they move up over the course of their careers? If they are students at a fine university, they ought to think they can or they're wasting their time. Whether making it in America today is easy or hard nowadays, these students are better off studying than protesting. I congratulate the students for their good sense in resisting the protest scene.
But Finkelmeyer chides them:
But in Madison, despite its reputation as a hotbed of student activism — notoriety that dates to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the city served as an epicenter for those protesting the Vietnam War — college students are slow to jump on the Occupy bandwagon.Maybe people don't want to be organized — by others, that is. Maybe the UW students are organized within their own lives and are pursuing an education and aiming toward a career path. Back in the not-so-good good old days of Vietnam protesting, you couldn't just concentrate on getting started on the path to economic well-being. The military draft was staring you in the face.
"From the very beginning of Occupy Madison, from the very first general assembly at Reynolds Park and in the following weeks, there was a noticeable lack of students," says [that one UW student], who in late October helped organize two Occupy UW marches as a member of the Direct Action Committee of Occupy Madison. He had hoped those would turn into weekly on-campus protests, but only 15 people showed up for the second march and no more were held due to a lack of interest.
"I don't think the outreach we did was as good as it could have been, so it didn't grow and Occupy UW has sort of been put on the back burner," says Phillips.
And, by the way, Finkelmeyer, mixed metaphor alert: "hotbed... epicenter... bandwagon."
The article goes on and on, with lots of quotes from professors and other politicos who wonder why the students are resisting the pull of protests. The delightfully named Elizabeth Wrigley-Field — "a New York native who is pursuing her Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison" — "cautions" us not to "over-generalize" and say that the students are apathetic.
"I think part of the strength of the Occupy movement in most areas is that it's a novelty of sorts... But we already had that here with the occupation of the Capitol (in February and March) and then we had Walkerville...."So maybe they're not apathetic; they're sick of all the protesting. Or they're passionate about their own individual lives and they need to study to get to a solid place for themselves in this risky economy. That tent-city out on East Washington Avenue is — by contrast — a horrifying alternative. It's irrational to think that hanging around in a parking lot with a bunch of left-wingers hoping for a revolution is going to work out better for you than concentrating on your school work and your job search.
IN THE COMMENTS: sean said:
Somewhat akin to what Prof. Althouse said, my back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that there are about 12 million Americans of college age, of whom perhaps 400,000 go to colleges of the caliber of Wisconsin or better. (The majority, of course, don't go to college at all, at least not to four-year institutions.) So Wisconsin students are in the top 3% of their age group, if not the top 1%, and obviously they aren't disposed to protest on behalf of other people.And Patrick said:
I had the good fortune of being in Madison on Christmas eve day. As we drove down E. Wash, past the Occupy parking lot, it looked barren, save for some tents. I'd assumed that if they were still "occupying," they'd be up at the Capitol. What sort of impact could they possibly imagine having from that parking lot? "Occupy Parking Lot" just loses whatever zing those clowns ever had. Total failure. They need to "move on."I responded: "It's the parking lot of what used to be a Don Miller car dealership, so we always call it 'Occupy Don Miller.'"