As I mentioned on Monday, the idea of a national student walkout in concert with the Occupy Wall Street movement has been gaining traction recently. Late last night a list of 75 campuses that have expressed plans to participate was posted on the Occupy Colleges Facebook page, and though not all of these walkouts may come together, experience shows that this sort of national action tends to bring campuses out of the woodwork who haven’t publicly stated their plans in advance. (And in fact, looking again at the list, I know there are some colleges planning walkouts who aren’t yet listed there.)
It remains to be seen how big today’s action is going to be — I don’t think anyone can predict that at this point — but a few things are worth bearing in mind as the day unfolds:
First, it’s October. Early October. The 2009-10 school year, the biggest year for co-ordinated student protest in the US since the seventies, started with a bang with September actions throughout California, and whatever the magnitude of today’s events turns out to be, they promise to be a beginning, not an end.
Second, this “walkout” is growing out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, not the Walkout of Wall Street movement. I haven’t yet seen any OWS-inspired campus occupations, but it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t some plans for that in the works. Will today be the day we see them born?
More to come…
9:50 am | The Occupy Colleges facebook page is here. Their twitter feed is here. Also be sure to check out the Twitter hashtags #OccupyColleges and #NYWalkout. I’ll update these resources as the day goes on — if you know of any I’ve missed, post in comments.
10:00 am | Students at Humboldt State University in California have been staging an occupation on their quad since Sunday.
12:15 pm | Reports of walkouts beginning to trickle in on Twitter and elsewhere. I’ve got a class for the next hour or so (my students didn’t walk out), but after that I’ll be back with full coverage all afternoon.
1:45 pm | Confirmed reports of walkouts in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, California, North Carolina, Texas. More coming in all the time, many states with multiple walkouts.
2:30 pm | New York and Massachusetts seem to be shaking out as the big players today, with New York the more dominant of the two. Historically, NY has been a center of student activism and protest (from the 30s to the 60s to the 80s and 90s), but that hasn’t been the case as much recently. That may be changing. Also significant — today’s actions seem to have brought the CUNY, SUNY, and NY State private colleges together in a way that hasn’t been seen in quite a while.
2:50 pm | Today has the feel of a kickoff rather than a culmination. As I noted earlier, it’s the beginning of a new academic year, and a lot of campuses seem to be using this walkout as a recruiting/organizing/planning tool. Word is also coming in of various campuses planning OWS-inspired occupations in the coming weeks — some of them may not have heard about today in time to coordinate.
3:15 pm | It’s now after noon on the West Coast. We should be hearing reports from a number of new actions soon.
3:40 pm | A Wisconsin student activist tweeted not long ago that he hadn’t heard much from that state’s campuses today, and wondered about my thoughts. I haven’t seen much from WI either, but it makes sense to me. To expand on what I said in my 2:30 update, today seems to be a day dominated by campuses and states that have not played a huge role in student protest in the last few years — folks in California and Wisconsin have their own schedules, own timelines, own agendas. Today is — I suspect — about the emergence of new movements more than a step forward for established ones. Haven’t seen a huge amount of California data yet, so I may have to rethink this later, but that’s my sense right now.
3:55 pm | Clearly a lot of very small walkouts and protests happening in addition to the big ones, many of them flying under the media/internet radar. It’s going to be hard to accurately document the scope of this, but the echoes are going to be felt for a while.
4:30 pm | I’m going to start putting out a full list of actions later this afternoon, but as of now I’ve seen events in something like fifteen states, with many of them seeing multiple campuses acting. As I noted above, many students seem to be acting without a lot of emphasis on getting the word out nationally, so the tally is harder to compile for that reason.
6:45 pm | I’ve been trying to get a full tally, and so far I’ve got thirteen states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington. I’m pretty sure there are at least a few more to come, quite possibly more than a few.
6:55 pm | About a third of the campuses confirmed to have hosted walkouts today were privates. That’s very high. Startlingly high. Since the sixties, private-campus student activism in the United States has declined precipitously.