Over half of Salisbury University students who graduated last May are still seeking employment, according to a Career Services study. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate is over 9 percent, suggesting the lack of jobs for SU grads is far from an isolated condition.
For the past two weeks, hundreds of Americans, including college students, from across the country have joined in protest near Wall Street, against what they see as the root of the problem, corporate greed.
Although the Occupy Wall Street movement initially received limited coverage by mainstream media, rumored to be caused by a “media blackout,” the movement continues to grow and inspire other major cities to follow suit.
Since Sept. 17 countless Americans have gathered in Zuccotti Park in New York’s financial district, to support Occupy Wall Street, a protest against what they see as economic injustice and corporate greed.
But this is not a typical march and picket; this is an encampment of non-violent, tent-wielding young activists, and a glimpse of the generation facing a lack of jobs in a fractured economy.
Blankets, tarps and ground pads cover the concrete, news cameras show, along with a vast spread of cardboard signs bearing messages like “We Want Money for Healthcare, Not Corporate Welfare” and “Wall Street is Our Street.”
Inspired by the recent uprisings in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square, the protesters, calling themselves “the 99 percent,” vow to end what they call “the monied corruption of democracy in the United States,” proliferated by big corporations and the wealthy, a.k.a the “1 percent.”
Protesters model their goal of a truly democratic society through General Assembly meetings held each day during which anyone can speak, according to news reports. Because city officials prohibit megaphones and other amplifiers, individuals surrounding the speaker have begun repeating his words clearly so everyone can hear.
Occupy Wall Street has been gaining momentum since the first call to action on July 13 by Vancouver-based anti-consumerist magazine, Adbusters. Other calls to action have sounded in cities across America, including Boston, Denver and San Francisco. Most of these sister protests are set to start within the first week of October, including one in Washington on Oct. 6 and one in Los Angeles on Saturday, according to the L.A. Times.
Over half SU May grads seek employment
Despite its relevance toward college graduates entering the labor market, few SU students have heard of the movement. Senior Jordan Krock is among those who have.
“If I had the time to get away from my classes and my exams I would definitely go participate in a heartbeat,” he said.
Krock, a physics major, said he does not feel confident about landing a job after graduation.
“The majority of students after graduation end up moving back into their parents’ houses because there are no jobs out there,” he said. “It’s really scary.”
According to a survey released this year by Career Services, 52.14 percent of SU students who graduated last May are still seeking employment; meanwhile 11.77 percent are employed full-time, 18.97 percent are employed part-time, 14.11 percent are furthering their education and 3.02 percent are unemployed. Out of about 1,508 graduates, 1,028 took the survey.
Sophomore Dan Holt said he feels “kind-of” confident in finding a job after graduation.
“I’m hoping that all the problems with jobs will be solved by the end of college,” he said. “If they’re not, I’ll go to graduate school.”
Statistics like these and bleak job prospects prompted many to take to the streets in an attempt to get media and public attention.
However, during the first week of protest, Occupy Wall Street caught little media attention, sparking participants to presume there was a “media blackout.”
Krock also took notice of the slim coverage.
“We had newsworthy things happening in this country and the only way I could find out about it was from a friend of a friend in Spain,” he said.
Media watch group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, is monitoring possible censorship closely.
After the non-profit organization sent an Action Alert Sept. 23 to nightly news networks, such as NBC, criticizing their failure to report, corporate coverage increased, according to the FAIR website.
Decisions to under-report have been backed by some news networks, like NPR, whose executive news editor, Dick Meyer, said “The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective,” according to the FAIR website. The day after Meyer’s statement was released on Sept. 26, NPR seemingly changed its mind and included a segment about the protest on radio program All Things Considered.
SU Communication Arts professor, Haven Simmons, also shed light on the “blackout.”
“Corporate media in America have their sacred cows. Media moguls, many of whom are part of the elite enjoying tax breaks from the Bush years, are more comfortable exiling grassroots movements such as Occupy Wall Street. The protesters are likely to be ignored or portrayed as kooky people on the fringe unless their numbers grow significantly,” he said.
“Warren Buffett became an inconvenience when, as the second wealthiest man in the country and arguably the most savvy investor of all time, he asked why the very wealthy should not equitably share the tax burden. His remarks could not be dismissed entirely, attracting the interest of more Americans than powerful factions would like to admit,” Simmons said.
Simmons continued to say the same thing happened with the late Pennsylvania legislator John Murtha, a 31-year Marine who forcefully spoke against the Iraq War in November 2005.
“Until then, corporate media and politicians of both parties ostensibly supported an increasingly unpopular war to demonstrate their patriotic zeal,” he said.
Some argue the “Wall Street Woodstock,” a term coined by Al Jazeera reporter Danny Schechter, lacks the integrity to merit more coverage.
Skepticism over the protesters’ failure to present specific demands is prevalent, especially among bloggers.
Others, including an anonymous reddit.com contributor who claims to be part of the “1 percent,” believe protesters’ complaints aren’t reaching the right ears and would be better fit for Washington DC.
Further opposition comes in the form of ridicule, spewed by bloggers who patronize the protesters’ youth, dyed hair and naiveté.
Aside from bloggers’ reports, it seems most mainstream media coverage has been sparked by unlawful attacks on innocent protesters by police. One incident involved four girls being penned and sprayed with mace without reason.
“It’s astonishingly unfair,” said Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center in Va.
“(Police officers) often cross the line and take action that wouldn’t be legally sensible,” he said. “To know where the line is, you need to be an expert in constitutional law, and nobody becomes a police officer because they’re an expert in constitutional law.”
Goldstein said protesters have the right to be seen and to protest, but do not have the right to block the street. Police officers should only be there to maintain order.
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