Campus political groups battle over ‘Occupy’ movement
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A face-off of ideologies took place on Marquette’s campus Friday, as the College Republicans and College Democrats demonstrated their different perspectives about the ongoing nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement.
The College Democrats sat under the Bridge and rallied support for Occupy Milwaukee, which occurred on Saturday. Not even 100 feet away, College Republicans, dressed in suits, carried signs and chanted as they showed their support for capitalism and opposition to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The movement began with demonstrations on Wall Street in New York City and has now spread to more than 70 major U.S. cities. The protesters are against social and economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government.
Saturday, the protests came to Milwaukee, and Marquette’s College Democrats and Republicans were ready for it.
Andy Suchorski, communications director for the Marquette College Democrats chapter, said the group has been very supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“This is a progressive movement trying to end the stranglehold that corporate interests have on our politics and lives,” said Suchorski, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “There is nothing more American than standing together with other Americans to fight to make things better for the bottom 99 percent. It is a no-brainer to support this movement.”
Not everyone views the movement as positive, though.
Ethan Hollenberger, chairman of the College Republicans, said support of the movement is not as easy as some make it seem.
Hollenberger, a senior in the College of Business Administration, said the Occupy Wall Street movement is full of double standards and false notions, and that many of its die-hard supporters are admittedly professional protestors.
“They blame the large corporations, yet give a free pass to the president they support ideologically,” Hollenberger said.
He said the College Republicans wanted to promote capitalism to students at their information table, but the College Democrats said they believed the group was going to hijack their event and disrupt their recruiting.
At the event, Suchorski said he was glad the Republicans were out on Wisconsin Avenue raising awareness of the movement.
“We believe that when students are presented with the two sides of this debate, they will overwhelmingly support us,” Suchorski said.
Hollenberger’s view on where student support falls differed.
“I don’t think they (the College Democrats) win the issue automatically,” he said.
Hollenberger said unemployment is at its highest in recent years, Obama has not lowered the cost of tuition, health insurance premiums or the deficit and costs are still high at the gas pump and grocery store.
“When we look at the facts, I think we are in a better position,” Hollenberger said.
The student organizations’ information tables were just a prelude to the full-scale demonstration held in downtown Milwaukee Saturday, though.
More than 1,000 people rallied to show solidarity with Occupy Wall Street protestors, including more than 25 Marquette College Democrats.
Suchorski said the protest was entirely peaceful, there were no arrests and it continued to build enthusiasm and momentum for the cause.
Hollenberger, on the other hand, said not all the Occupy Wall Street protests have been peaceful. He said there have been many arrests, police cars defecated on and that trash has built up, primarily at the New York rallies.
Students not affiliated with the College Democrats and Republicans were also divided about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Kevin Mueller, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said groups like the Occupy Wall Street movement are necessary in this age of corporate takeover to give a voice to the common man.
Tim Kendzior, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said he is concerned about the Occupy movement.
“I do not know where it will take America, but hopefully it doesn’t take us away from capitalism,” he said.