The Occupy movement may have moved out of Burnside Park in Providence, Zuccotti Park in New York, and other sites, but it’s just beginning at the University of Rhode Island.
A flood of e-mails from a group called Occupy URI were sent to faculty, students and the media last week, urging them to attend a gathering in Lippitt Hall on the Kingston Campus on Tuesday to discuss the high cost of higher education, and what the movement might do on campus.
Approximately 80 faculty, students, administrators and community activists took them up on it.
One of the speakers, Margarida da Graca, who has worked as a college counselor for disadvantaged students, wept as she talked about being a first-generation college student.
“My family always told me ‘education,’” she said. “They always valued it. It is so disheartening to work with students [and having them] realize the price tag on the dream they have. This education cost them more than they can imagine. We are told that without it, we can’t progress, but the price tag for access is hard for my students to take in. It needs to be affordable for students.”
da Graca, one of the event speakers, left the session a few minutes later, prompting an audience member, Professor Peter Nightingale, to remark how sad it was that she had to leave, most likely because she had to work.
“Someone somewhere was asked to describe the current economy in a word, and she said, ‘exhaustion,’” Nightingale said. “This is what we have created.”