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The Spark That Could Ignite the Occupy Movement on Campuses Across America

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If you saw the videos of campus police dousing UC Davis college students with pepper spray you may be witness to the spark that ignited the Occupy Movement on the nation's college campuses. That mindless, brutal reaction to peaceful demonstrations has the potential to motivate and energize millions of students at colleges and universities to become part of the movement to restore justice and equality in this society by reigning in the power and control of the wealthiest of Americans; that 1% whose interests are furthered by its facilitators in the corporate world and the U.S. Congress.

Millions of college students are becoming more and more disillusioned as they see their hopes for the future unraveling. They see a dysfunctional government that no longer has the capacity to address this nation's most critical problems; they watch as those at the top of the income ladder use this government and the corporations of America to accumulate more and more wealth. And now as they try to air their own grievances against this embedded system through peaceful protests, they are denied that constitutional right of free speech by the stifling, suffocating might of today's law enforcement agencies.

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These students are now being subjected to the very same overly aggressive police actions that have been experienced by the Occupy Movement members in New York City, Oakland, Portland and many other cities across America. The unrest and disillusionment that has been building up across America now includes these students who we need to understand represent the future of this nation. They are a part of that 99% of Americans who are the foundation of this country.

Here's the dilemma that so many of these students are facing. At 17 or 18 years of age those who have the desire begin the process of preparing themselves for the future by acquiring a college degree. Let's say their annual tuition including room and board is typically $30,000; some tuitions are far higher. As they go from year to year, financing their education with student loans, they are also subjected to constant tuition increases.

And when they graduate what happens. They are burdened with loans of anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 and often as much as $100,000. And as they look for jobs they find it nearly impossible to find them. So what's going on here? The colleges keep increasing their revenue through higher and higher tuition, those who make the loans to the students make a killing through the interest that they will be getting for many years to come -- these are the clear winners. And who are the losers? Quite obviously, it's the students who take a real beating.

They graduate eager to join America's workforce and begin successful, meaningful careers. But what they find as they go out on their own is a vast wasteland in which corporations have closed thousands of factories, eliminated millions of workers' jobs through outsourcing and are totally unwilling to invest their massive surplus funds in helping to create jobs which could stabilize this economy. That has to be a futile, hopeless feeling for those who are following in our footsteps.

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Currently, student loans in America total $830 billion and, before long, they may reach $1 trillion; that's not only shocking, it is just plain incomprehensible in a nation as rich as America. That's a national shame, America should be better than that. There are many people in America who look with disgust and revulsion at many of the countries in Europe in which student tuition is paid through national taxes. And if you suggested to them that America could and should do the same thing for its students by scaling back its ongoing agenda of war and using those funds for a system of national education, they would immediately label you as one of those dreadful socialists.

That's how crazy things have become. Numerous nations in the world have invested a significant portion of their wealth on those who will be expected to make meaningful future contributions to their societies. But not so in America; in this country we think differently. We have a government that has decided that war and the building of a military empire is far more important than the future of its children. What a contrast in thinking, what a difference in the moral reasoning between countries and people.

Students across America are being inspired by the growing power of the Occupy Movement and are learning from it. They are becoming aware that they are witnessing the beginning stages of the American police state. The police and the mayors of these cities are showing their true colors. They are not the least bit concerned with freedom of expression; they are only concerned with suppression of those who protest. As many Americans attempt to protest and demonstrate peacefully, we see swinging batons and watch as students are sprayed in the face from close range by enormous amounts of pepper spray. What's next, ultra-powerful tasers? Let's hope they aren't thinking of bringing in SWAT teams at some point.

Which colleges and universities and which sections of America will be adding to the power of the Occupy Movement on campuses? While that can't be accurately predicted at this time, it's pretty evident where student protests are not likely to ever take place. Don't look for Ivy League or other prestigious Eastern schools to become involved because they have become the breeding ground for future Wall Street executives so there is no need for any kind of protests.

When the masters of Wall Street retire into a life of opulence who do they wish to recruit as their successors? You guessed right; they want the best and the brightest students from the same schools that their fathers and grandfathers attended. Wealth begets wealth and there is no room for any "outsiders" who lack a pedigree. That's just how it's done in America and within our financial institutions, it's a closed society.

This movement of the people is currently facing more and more opposition from overly aggressive police in riot gear in cities across America. The combination of police actions and the onset of winter will naturally slow down the protests and demonstrations but the movement is far too strong to just fade away. These multi-thousands of energized Americans will find innovative ways to cope with the police and set up new bases for their operations.

Instead of concentrations of protesters at locations such as Zuccotti Park, the movement will become decentralized and groups of demonstrators will be showing up all over cities confronting various individuals and organizations, appearing at state and city legislative sessions and government agencies and going after any and all targets that they feel are fully supportive of the 1% of Americans whose objective is to continue to control this society. This movement has no intention of going away.

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This movement is exactly what America has needed, what it has been waiting for. Millions of people have been watching with a sense of despair and hopelessness as they witness the country they love heading in the wrong direction, as those who control the wealth of America dominate this government and the national agenda. At long last, seemingly out of nowhere, the Occupy Movement has appeared to challenge that massive power and bring back a sense of justice, equality and stability to this nation.

What a shot in the arm it will be if and when this movement explodes and spreads across the campuses of America. In the space of less than 3 months the Occupy Movement has made tremendous strides and is on its way to becoming a significant force in America. With the addition of the power that can be generated when it is joined by students who share the same frustrations and concerns, this movement will have the wind at its back and there will be way of stopping it.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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