Occupy SIU draws small crowd with big hopes

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - College students around the country are showing their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement; that includes at Southern Illinois University.

Thursday afternoon's gathering in front of Morris Library certainly didn't bring out the large crowds as seen in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago; only a dozen or so students took part. But the students who did join the effort were passionate about their cause.

"I think one of the lies that our generation has been told is that we're somehow not as powerful as the Baby Boomers, that we just have to let them control our world. I think part of what the Occupy Together movement is doing is saying 'No'," said protestor Nichole Nicholson, an SIU Graduate teacher's assistant and PhD candidate. "The youth do have a voice. We have opinions and this is our world too."

Unlike their Occupy Wall Street counterparts in New York armed with sleeping bags and protest signs, the small groups of SIU students were armed with only book bags and the hope that they'll graduate into a better world.

"It's going to be very hard to make a new world for yourself if Wall Street continues doing what they're doing," said protestor Derrick Burns, an SIU Freshman. "I was part of Occupy Chicago...I carried a sign, and on the back of the sign it said 'the American government and Wall Street will hear from all of us soon', and that's true because you cannot keep treating people you serve this way."

The Occupy SIU event was planned as a part of the "Occupy Colleges" nationwide walk out. Students from 100 universities across the country planned to join the effort for change Thursday afternoon. It was billed as potentially the largest student protest since the 1970's.

"We don't have to be run by the people who have all the money," said Nicholson. "We can make our own decisions we're allowed to have a voice. Especially in southern Illinois where so many are struggling with joblessness, poverty and lack of opportunity, this movement is particularly important here as a way to get the local folks involved, it doesn't have to be this way, we can make change together."

While the SIU event didn't see the crowds as seen in larger cities - the students say each of those large scale events started small, with an idea that caught on.

"When I was in Chicago, the first day we only had 12 people, but as the day and week went on there were thousands and thousands of people who supported us. I believe the same outcome will happen here," Burns said.

"Occupy Carbondale" plans to protest again Saturday in Carbondale with the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois. Details on a location and time for that protest will be revealed later on the Occupy Carbondale Facebook page.

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