YPU dines with Occupy New Haven

Occupy New Haven wants to have a discussion with Yale University.

At a dinner organized by the Yale Political Union Thursday night in Branford common room, two representatives of Occupy New Haven spoke to seven members of the YPU about the movement’s goals. The representatives said Occupy New Haven’s focus is on creating an open discussion, and they hope Yale students will engage with the movement by considering its message. Although citizens have a tendency to associate protests with anger, Ben Aubin, one of the movement’s representatives, said he hopes students will associate Occupy with discussion.

“If students can make an effort to go down to the [New Haven] Green, they would learn a hell of a lot,” said Martina Crouch ’14, the other representative at the dinner.

Occupy New Haven — inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests that call for less corporate influence on government — seeks to distinguish itself from other, similar movements across the country by honing in on issues specific to New Haven, Aubin said.

Rather than protesting, he added, the movement is trying to find ways to educate community members to solve economic problems such as unemployment without relying on government. To that end, Occupy New Haven has been planning vocational workshops and educational meetings that will take place during the “occupation” of the New Haven Green beginning on Oct. 15, Crouch said.

Aubin said the Occupy New Haven movement is working with the city of New Haven to make sure their use of public space accords with city ordinances. He said city officials have been cooperative during the planning process, and he hopes this willingness to accommodate indicates a positive public perception of Occupy New Haven.

Crouch said that all cities playing host to Occupy movements are different, and trying to compare them to each other is a mistake, since each will have different goals. She added that all Occupy movements are trying to find out what problems community members have, so they can better work to solve them.

Crouch and Aubin invited both neutral and critical students to join them Saturday on the Green for the opening of the occupation. They said they especially want to talk to supporters of Occupy Occupy New Haven, a student-driven movement in opposition to Occupy New Haven that began as a Facebook group. Aubin said that Occupy Occupy New Haven members have expressed interest in opening a dialogue, which he hopes is genuine.

He said that Occupy New Haven is not a political organization, and that politicizing it by protesting on political grounds would do no good for either side.

Six of the seven YPU attendees said they supported the movement while the other opposed it.

“I think it would be great for not just the YPU, but for people from all student groups, to just come down and talk,” Francisco Diez ’14 said.

On Sept. 28, supporters of Occupy Wall Street announced that an occupation of the London Stock Exchange is under consideration.

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