Editorial: We are the ‘99 percent,’ this is why we protest

By Laura Hancq
October 12, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protests made their debut in Philadelphia last week. This is a movement of a generation, similar to the Arab Spring and European summer. While people of all ages have attended and spoken out, the young people, the future leaders of the United States, are at the forefront.

Many bystanders are puzzled by the protest. It is unclear to many what the protestors are trying to achieve. A partial explanation to this is that there are many complaints and messages that are trying to be conveyed.  However, there is a unifying theme that needs to not only be heard, but also understood and acted upon by our government officials.

It is the slogan of the protest and what unifies all of the participants: “We are the 99 percent.” It is the “1 percent” of this country that is holding the wealth and doing even better than ever, as many of the Wall Street CEO’s received raises last year, while the “99 percent” is hurting in today’s economy.

If there is anything the Occupy protestors are trying to vanquish ,it is greed. Greed is largely to blame for the fall of the economy and still appears to be an issue, even though you would think lessons would have been learned. While they may have different personal opinions, political views and economic situations, the protestors want fundamental change to make life better for the “99 percent” of the United States.

The point is that the current economy only works for “1 percent” of the population of this country. Is this fair? Absolutely not. Are any of us average citizens in that “1 percent”? Not really.

As college students, specifically Cabrini students, we are privileged. Obviously, some much more than others depending on family backgrounds and financial situations, but as a whole, Cabrini students are privileged. While you may need student loans to attend college, we are privileged in the fact that we are receiving a private, liberal arts education in a community where we are all considered individuals and unique students. So many people are unable to get this opportunity to receive an education. Despite this, we are still part of the “99 percent”.

No matter how financially secure our families might be, when we graduate from Cabrini, whether this year or four years from now, most of us will be expected to take care of ourselves. This means finding not only good-paying jobs, but also jobs that are secure, so we can afford a place to live, and for some of us, to pay off our student loans.

There are definitely jobs out there. In a tough economy, it is up to everyone to push hard and expand themselves. It is clear we are not going to just be handed opportunities and the Loquitur editorial staff recognizes that is not the message of Occupy; they are not asking to just be handed wealth.  Instead, they want opportunity. They want everything this country is supposed to be built on and the chance to make something out of yourself.

We understand it is not the same world our parents grew up in. That is obvious on so many levels. The Loquitur staff does not think the goal of the protest is to make life the same as it was back then. Those days are not coming back.

While the young generation is at the head of the movement, people of all ages are involved and getting vocal about their experiences and expectations. Older people have lost their homes, jobs and retirement funds. As always, healthcare and education costs are immense issues. We have all been affected.

The editorial in this week’s Philadelphia Inquirer raises the point that to really produce change, the protests will need to move from the streets to congressional town hall meetings and ultimately to the voting booth in 2012.  The participants in the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya can serve as examples that protesting can be effective, but real change requires commitment and follow-through. This is why it is vital that we advocate for enlightenment. Educate yourself about the situation, what has happened in the economy and how we can actually improve. Then, take that with you to the voting booth.

There are many controversial opinions among the protestors. There have been various pictures in the media of slogans and signs that try and disband capitalism and government. While everyone is going to have differing political opinions, the Loquitur editorial staff believes the goal of Occupy is not to classify the people into democrat, republican, liberal or conservative.  We are united, as a country, as a majority, as students, workers, children and parents for a common good.

Do our political affiliations really matter? We are all American and we all want opportunity. We want answers and solutions, not more doubt and greed. We want to be able to trust that our government will have the best interest of the majority at heart.


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Laura Hancq

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