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Editorial | Occupy’s spirit, if not its approach, still has a place on the Hill

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 08:02

The spirit of the Occupy movement may not be as visible, but it hasn’t lost its teeth. The passion, energy, and spirit of grassroots protest and collective action is alive and evolving at Tufts, at least as evidenced by the numerous active movements that appear to be inspired by a more refined and focused strain of the Occupy agenda.

In this spirit, to say that the Occupy movement was ineffective, or that it accomplished nothing, would be a misguided disservice to the organizations and initiatives that have splintered off from its concentration of energy, or have been influenced by its vigor. Groups on campus that embrace this energy and channel it into political and social change should be welcomed and supported on campus, regardless of whether or not their messages are convenient or in line with the Tufts brand or every student’s opinion. With the student groups and movements that have incorporated and re−formatted Occupy’s messages and goals, a more focused and passionate response to social justice has emerged.

These concerns are focused on specific issues, and have very clear and direct goals, something to be commended. These groups retain the essence that characterized the Occupy movement. Although some skeptics viewed the movement as a chaotic gathering without any genuine ideas, it was effective in at least one respect: mobilization of the aware and often disenfranchised populace. Student groups can and should learn from that fact, and apply the enthusiasm of the movement to other more single−minded tasks. When historians look back, they will perhaps see the past two years as the beginning of a reimagining of mainstream activism. This can only be possible if groups learn from the successes and mistakes of purposeful activists and varied forms of activism that came before Occupy, and position themselves accordingly.

We are now living in the days of “Occupy Sandy” and “Occupy the Hood,”where that same vitality is being applied to specific problems plaguing society, and grassroots protests are fast becoming more effective, efficient and important, thanks in large part to the widespread use and popularity of social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. Students would be remiss to let that energy die out and forget the Occupy movement’s greatest accomplishment: the inspiration to speak up and fight for ideas.

Occupy, on the surface, may have been written off and deemed as unfocused, but there was a reason so many were skeptical. To neglect the lessons of the Occupy movement would be a disservice, and students must channel their enthusiasm, intellectual and social curiosity, and energy and sacrifice their comfort in order to pursue more focused channels.

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