A week after it began, the Occupy Tempe/ASU movement is still largely composed of the group's original activists — not students.
About 30 people gathered on Hayden Lawn Wednesday evening to protest Arizona House Bill 2675.
The bill would require ASU, NAU and UA students to pay $2,000 of their tuition out-of-pocket starting fall 2012. Some students who receive scholarships based on academic merit or athletics through a national program will be exempt.
Physics and math sophomore Derek Nasir was one of the few students present.
Nasir said the bill could affect many of his friends.
“People are trying to milk students for whatever they’re worth,” he said. “If we don’t voice our opinions, no one will.”
Nasir has been part of the Occupy Phoenix movement since it began in October. He said the lack of student involvement in both movements seems odd because that demographic drove similar protests on the West coast.
He said he has talked up the movement to everyone he meets, to the point where his friends are sick of him.
“(Most students) seem more interested in studying or just goofing around,” Nasir said. “They’re not really thinking or understanding the issues.”
Philosophy sophomore Cameron Zatz-Krecker, who did not participate in the protest but watched from Hayden Lawn, said he thought more students should be there.
“This bill is discriminatory against poor and minorities,” Zatz-Krecker said. “It may not be deliberate racism, but it will make ASU more exclusive to people whose families have a lot of money.”
Many present were there to observe before joining in, while others chanted slogans and brandished signs decrying the notion of profit-based education.
ASU alumna Shasta Payne said she might participate in future Occupy Tempe/ASU events. She said the organizers should work on connecting more with students and think about setting up tables in addition to staging demonstrations on Hayden Lawn.
She was also highly opposed to HB 2675.
“Just because you didn’t get a 4.0 in high school doesn’t mean you won’t be a good student,” Payne said.
However, she may not be able to return. During the event, representatives from the Memorial Union Meetings and Events Services came to inform protesters they could continue the rally in progress but could not return to Hayden Lawn next week unless a student organization or department sponsored them.
The event remained fairly calm, to the point where some students were not aware a protest was occurring.
Sustainability junior Nich Weller was eating dinner with a friend on the other side of the Lighthouse.
“Honestly, we were just sitting here and weren’t entirely sure what they were doing,” Weller said. “We thought they might just be hanging out or maybe part of the Anarchy club meeting.”
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