As students, what can we do? How can we help grow the #occupy movement and empower the 99%? We can do more than hold signs, hand out flyers, and post on Facebook. We can change the way our universities bank.
Often, universities portray themselves as sacred temples of learning -- places where apolitical knowledge is generated and shared. And while there is some truth to that, it must also be acknowledged that universities are powerful and wealthy institutions often controlled by powerful and wealthy individuals. These individuals have vested interests in seeing particular corporations prosper, as well as our current financial and political systems perpetuated.
Those interests are reflected in universities' institutional relationships with big, corporate banks. Many universities use Bank of America and Chase for banking services. They have participated in interest rate swaps with Lehman Brothers. They have welcomed corporate banks onto campuses to sell credit cards to students. These relationships strengthen the big banks that charge excessively high interest rates, engage in risky financial bets, and perpetuate predatory lending practices, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color. (For more information on these practices, see here.)
Universities control an almost mind-boggling amount of money, including about $350 billion in endowments and almost $100 billion in annual spending. Of course, that money does not just sit in a vault in the admissions' office. It is kept in a bank -- usually a big corporate bank such as Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, or Citibank.
The #occupy movement has raised awareness that where we deposit our money matters. Banks depend on deposits from their clients -- especially institutional clients like universities. When enough clients move their money because they do not agree with a bank's practices (such as engaging in payday lending, funding mountaintop removal coal mining, or perpetrating robo-signed foreclosures), the bank may be forced to change its practices in order to regain deposits and survive.
On November 5th, "Bank Transfer Day," thousands of individuals will close their corporate bank accounts and move their money to community banks and credit unions -- financial institutions that are more socially, environmentally, and economically just and sustainable. College students: let's join this action. But let's also go a step further and demand that our universities close their corporate bank accounts and move their money as well.
This is not a ridiculous demand. In fact, divesting from corporate banks is in line with most universities' rhetoric about and already existing commitments to social, environmental and community responsibility.
We must ask ourselves: How can a school flaunt its LEED-certified buildings, sophisticated recycling program, and commitment to buying local food, but keep its money in a bank that finances mountaintop coal removal? How can a school tout its community development initiatives and programs that provide tutors for children in underserved communities, but keep its money in a bank that unjustly forecloses on homes in those same children's neighborhoods? It is the time for college students across the country to call attention to this hypocrisy and demand that institutions change it.
It is our moment. Now is the time to leverage our unique power as students to expand the #occupy movement to affect university finances. Every dollar that we move gets us one step closer to a financial system that values our planet and all of its people.
On November 5th, join me and other students across the country as we move our money. Then, let's call upon our universities to do the same.
Everyone -- Join the Facebook event College Bank Transfer Day to make a statement and learn more.You can find all the resources you need to make any day Bank Transfer Day on Move Our Money.
I feel the occupy movement does have a basic underlying message; Stop letting money decide political elections; And regulate corporate lobbying (and all lobbying) making it a public forum. Right now lobbying is mostly two old white guys sitting across from each other in an office. “They” have probably worked with each other or went to the same school; And “they” have promised you a job when you get out of politics, — tripling your present salary!. The “lobbyist” used to be a “politician”, it worked for him!. Who owns who? – That’s a “Person-hood”. My friend and I put on a protest in Olympia for World Can’t Wait Oct. 5, 2006 at the capitol. Here are some photos… http://www.creativeflashes.com/Politics/World-Cant-Wait-Oct-5th-2006/1971747_r54FkC/1/100377072#100377079_npPWj I also coordinated and promoted a protest in Bellevue when Bush was there.
Happy to say both worked out without arrest, injury or property damage! I worked with the Washington State Patrol in Olympia, and Bellevue Police beforehand, and we pretty much understood the rules of engagement. Medina police were not good partners.. I lived in the Glenn Hotel in downtown Seattle when the WTO protests happened. It happened at my front door. I was a part of it, promoting it, and involved in it. There is something going on, and I am going to be a part of it again. I have helped organize and promote protests in Bellevue, Olympia, and Seattle Washington; another big one is coming. I feel it will be a âWTOâ sized protest in multiple cities. “I” was at the WTO protests in Seattle Washington, (with thousands of “other” really awesome “people”, and a few “freaks”) when a bunch of “anarchists” started busting windows with crowbars. We surrounded them, and they got in a circle with their crowbars. I tried to get the “Seattle police” to come arrest "these anarchistsâ, that were only fifty feet away and threatening violence and breaking windowsâ¦ The “Seattle police” would not budge from their âpolice lineâ, making all of “us” the “enemy”…. (There were thousands of “union” and “other” people sitting and standing in the street, – it was a relativly peaceful protest until the windows started breakingâ¦). " I" am not the “enemy”. I will be in Seattle at 700 Stewart street at the Federal courthouse January 20th, 2012!!! I know we can do this better than last time.
The Corporate Occupation of the United States Our corporate controlled government (through corporate lobbying and election funding ) is out of the peoples control. People want government control back. Makes sense to meâ¦ I feel US corporate capitalism (corporatism) is a type of economic fascism: To have a corporate being where the chain of command eventually muddles all responsibility to any human being. These corporate beings are running your life, and controlling your government. (Enough to really make an individual mad and protest.) In reality, the corporate being does not exist, and when it comes to face itâs corporate responsibility, it is a piece of paper. (Or a CEO saying; âI do not recall thatâ, âI did not have that informationâ, âthat was not my responsibility, I was running the company, and not just that departmentâ,,, and on and on. It has bred a corporate culture of abuse, because they keep getting away with it..), Corporate person-hood is plain and simply wrong: A corporation is not a human being. Restore capitalism to individual responsible chains of command, or this struggle will be lost.
Please Sign the petition to amend the Constitution for revoking corporate personhood at:
(I feel January 20th, 2012: will be a bigger day in US history than WTO in Seattle. The battle continues, rage against the machine is real.)
January 20, 2012 â Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!
Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark this date â Occupy the Courts â a one day occupation on Friday January 20, 2012, of the Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States and as many of the 89 U.S. District Court Buildings as we can. Inspired by Dr. Cornell West, who was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court last month, Move to Amend will lead the charge on the judiciary which created â and continues to expand â corporate personhood rights.