It’s been clear for a while — since well before the Occupy Wall Street movement arose this fall — that something new was happening on American campuses. The surge of activism that swept California in the fall of 2009 went national by the spring of 2010, and though there have been peaks and valleys since, a shift in mood, a sense of possibility, has been apparent throughout.

And of course that “something new” was itself part of what created OWS. Students occupied NYU and the New School in 2008, UC and CSU in 2009, and those actions, those occupations, formed a part of the history that the folks who occupied Zuccotti Park drew on last fall. (Student Activism is Back, Micah White declared on the Adbusters blog three years ago, reporting on a wave of occupations in the UK and the US.)

Today’s New York Times picks up the story where it stands now, with a thorough, thoughtful article on the present state of the Occupy movement on American campuses. Occupy, it says, is “turning on its head the widespread characterization of today’s young people as entitled and apathetic,” creating “a giddying sense of possibility” for a new generation of activists.

Sounds about right.