#WearTheSquare defines their ‘principles of solidarity’
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 01:01
As ASOSU’s on campus #WearTheSquare campaign slowly begins, participating students attempt to establish a foundation for the grassroots organization.
After announcing their movement last week they have spent time planning their goals and future events but intend to pick up with more student participation and upcoming on campus events.
As with many social movements, solidarity becomes a key word. The movement takes after another in Quebec when students took to the streets to protest the raising of tuition at their university.
Alex Ries, ASOSU’s Director of Campus Affairs and member of #WearTheSquare said he has seen students on campus continue to struggle to stay in college.
“It’s becoming harder and harder for people to obtain a degree,” Ries said. “Through solidarity we can say no [to tuition hikes].”
Dan Cushing, ASOSU’s Vice-President, stressed a “we not I” mentality associated along with grassroots movements and always keeping the “why” at the center of a growing campaign.
“It’s easy for [legislators] to ignore us,” Cushing said. “But if we had 100 or 1,000 students at the same place at the same time it would be hard to ignore.”
It is no secret that funding for higher education has been down within the state, resulting in constant tuition hikes and disagreements between students and universities.
OSU has seen raises in tuition of about $3,400 in the last 10 years and has propositions to continue the raising of tuition next year by 6.9 percent and 8.4 percent during the 2014-15 school year.
After their original launch, the organization was at a point of having all the facts and still seeking to find a definitive position of their own. Through several meetings over the last week, a vision statement and list of “principles of solidarity” have been created to help bring in an identity.
Ideas for the vision statement were passed around the table on Monday afternoon in hopes of finding a broader view of the goals and motivations which brought about the creation and participation of #WearTheSquare.
The specific topics of what the campaign hopes to address has also been established after a late meeting Tuesday night. Four of the five “Principles of Solidarity” are mostly ideological stances helping to define the purpose and future action of the movement.
• “We are a local and global movement.”
• “Affordable education is a right.”
• “We are comprised of and represent traditionally underrepresented communities and aspiring allies.”
• “We are a non-violent, grassroots organization.”
• The fifth principle addresses Governor Kitzhaber’s 40-40-20 goal that has been agreed upon by the State of Oregon with hopes of achievement by the year 2025.
• “The goals of 40-40-20 should be financed by the State of Oregon, not by increases in tuition. In order to meet this goal, decision makers are adding infrastructure and personnel at meteoric rates while state funding is increasing only nominally. #WearTheSquare insists that students do not shoulder the cost of expanding Oregon’s skilled workforce.”
ASOSU Representative Matthew Palm provided advice during the first meeting for the #WearTheSquare general assembly on attempting to make large but realistic change.
Palm was a student in the California University System and said he remembered when they lost 20 percent of their funding in 2 years and the state wanted to cut another $100 million.
Palm said through student and faculty protests a few campuses across the state were shut down and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced to reexamine the proposed cuts.
“It was a long and painful process to get that response,” Palm said. “But it’s definitely possible.”
This brings the conversation back to solidarity. In their vision statement and first “Principle of Solidarity” #WearTheSquare explains where their inspiration comes from and where their ideas of solidarity lie.
The groups next general assembly meeting is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 25, from 2-4 p.m. in Snell 106.
Ricky Zipp, news reporter