Loyola University Chicago students have joined protesters at the Federal Reserve Bank in the Occupy Chicago movement and plan to make a larger presence as the Occupy Wall Street-inspired protest continue.
On Saturday, they plan to be part of the Global Day of Occupation, gathering at LaSalle Street and Jackson Boulevard for a day of speeches and rallies.
Loyola senior Kat Fossell joined Occupy Chicago on its second day of formation in September.
“I’ve been going down there ever since,” said Fossell, 21, creative writing major. “I went down there to check it out and there were only five people there holding a general assembly and then it got to be about 35.”
While writing an article for a creative writing class, Fossell researched student loans and possible loan forgiveness programs discussed in Congress, which sparked her initial interest in Occupy Chicago.
“I am really interested in making [university] education affordable in the United States,” Fossell said. “It’s set up way differently in every other country in the world and it just seems so insane to me that we spend so much just to go to college and then spend years and years trying to pay back this debt.”
Fossell and seniors Joe DiCola and Kevin Rigot have been active in the movement since it first started and are now working to get more Loyola students involved.
“What we want is democracy,” DiCola told The Chicagoist.
“There are a lot of kids at Loyola who don’t know a lot about it,” Fossell said. “We’re hoping to pass out fliers on Friday, and if that generates some interested, we were talking about having meetings up here that way people didn’t have to travel all the way downtown.”
The meetings would be informal and give students a chance to ask questions about the movement, but Fossell said the best way to learn about Occupy Chicago is to go visit and talk to protesters.
“I know everyone is busy with homework and midterms and countless other things, but for me it’s really cool to be down there and see that other people care about what happens in the future,” Fossell said. “Even if you don’t care about any of that, it’s really cool for students to go down and see you can make a change. That’s why I keep going back.”
The Occupy movements across the country have faced criticism for the lack of solutions offered to solve the problems they are protesting.
“They haven’t really proposed any solutions to the grievances list, but I think that the solutions are kind of self-evident in a lot of cases,” Fossell said. “[Occupy] is a chance to stand in solidary and recognize the same problems. That’s a really important first step. If the majority of people can agree these are the problems were having then we can easily come up with solutions.”
Fossell explained the Occupy movements are still in its early stages. Right now, it is focusing on sending the message that “the 99%” are supporting a common cause.
Occupy Chicago is trying to organize a march of college students from campuses around the city that will converge at the Jackson and LaSalle site.
“I would like to see Loyola represented,” Fossell said. “It’d be sad to have only 20 Loyola kids and a bunch from other schools.”
“Protest seem a little cliché in our day and age,” Fossell said. “There’s this mentality that were not in the 70s and this seems sort of ridiculous, but I think there needs to be a lot of changes in our government system, and Occupy Chicago [addresses] that.”
Protesters from Loyola would love to see more of their fellow students at rallies.
“Personally, I’d love to see other Loyola students get involved in anyway possible” said Kevin Rigot, 21, a senior history major at Loyola. “The best was would be to simply come down and spend some time at the protest. Although we call it a protest, its really much more of a celebration and demonstration of community and democracy, and we want as many people as possible to come down, spend some time with us and experience it. ”
For more information about the Occupy Chicago Loyola Chapter, visit their Facebook page: Occupy Chicago (Loyola Chapter).