#OccupyPennState Vacates HUB

After a month of maintaining a presence in the HUB, #OccupyPennState has decided to take down the protest signs and relocate from a physical occupation to an amorphous existence through diplomatic dialogue and unfaltering connections. Though the movement will no longer have a face on-campus, #OccupyPennState will continue on their struggle to spark the spirit of activism throughout the student body.

Here is the letter that the organizers have compiled in the wake of their decision to physically dismantle.

When we started Occupy Penn State in the HUB, we were aware of many problems with our university and our country. We knew that we needed to somehow reach the student body, highlighting these issues by bringing them into daily conversations on campus. We have done so — through talking with passerby, through media coverage, through teach-ins, through classroom discussions, through publication of articles in public forums. That said, we decided that Occupy Penn State needed to evolve. Having accomplished all we can in the HUB, we have decided that the physical occupation will end, though the democratic dialogue we started has planted innumerable seeds in connection with the international Occupy movement. We are one piece — but an important piece — in the puzzle. By starting discussion on a local level, we have brought the movement into perspective, and its lens has allowed us to take a critical look at our own community. After the dust settles regarding the recent scandal, we will work with the new administration regarding the goals we established this semester. We aim to create a dialogue that will benefit the Penn State community, challenging the new administration to address issues such as high tuition, budget transparency (in part through disclosure of corporate funding), sustainability in our education and more effective student representation.That said, we feel that in light of current events surrounding the Sandusky case, it is most important to stand together as a student body, drawing attention to the victims who are often forgotten at the center of the situation. At the same time, looking forward, we must remember to remain vigilant of the flaws in our administration.  

Not every administrator knew the details of what happened, yet simply “cleaning house” and bringing in new administrators will not necessarily prevent something like this from happening again. This problem is systemic, and the precedents set by our administration actively facilitated tragedy. It valued image and money above people; they made decisions to protect the Penn State brand at the expense of students and community members. Now both Penn State’s image and people are suffering.

Underneath the new administration, we will work to foster an environment of honesty and integrity — with stronger communication between the students, representatives, faculty and administration. We are Penn State.

As #OccupyPennState dismantles its on-campus presence, I encourage their mission of political activism to carry on. Though many have tried to discredit the movement by coining participants as shoe-less hippies who lack clear and decisive motives, I challenge those in opposition to take their message with a grain of salt.

Let the proud activism of these students live on in the souls of the Penn State community. Without a challenge to the status quo, our generation may inherit a nation riddled with systematic corruption. Find it in yourselves to look past preconceived notions and dig into the heart of what the occupy movement stands for–an amorphous dialog centered on solving the problems we will inevitably face as tomorrow’s businessman, politicians and innovators.

Instead of occupying the HUB, I urge student to occupy their minds. We will be the captains at the helm of this nation one day. Will you be rightfully prepared?

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