What started as a class project for Seton Hill University’s (SHU) Public Opinion and Propaganda class, turned into a call to action for approximately 20 students. Through a series of performances and round table discussions, Occupy SHU hosted political dialogue in Ceclian Hall on Nov. 17.
“We are here to talk about change and reform in government. The Republicans versus Democrats system isn’t working. What’s happening is not flowing with what America should be. This is a time for students to voice their opinions,” said Kenneth Harris, a junior communications and political science major who organized the event.
“We have to occupy everywhere because it’s our place. Take it or leave it. We have a say in our government and we have to make our say louder,” said Nicholas Biddle, an adjunct professor of political science.
Biddle urged the students to work towards the justice that the founding fathers intended. They chose to work with Equality PA to create a city ordinance of nondiscrimination against sexual orientation.
“Because I’m gay, I can be kicked out of private restaurants and even not permitted to use water fountains. There is no law against that discrimination in Greensburg,” said junior music education major Michael Scaglione.
“The only way that goodness moves forward is when we decide on goodness and move towards it together. Goodness equals progress towards a goal,” said Biddle, who visited the Occupy Wall Street movement in NY Oct. 8-10.
Biddle asked the students if they felt like they have a say in their government. He talked about the history of justice in the United States.
“The only good thing about the United States is our ability to claim justice,” said Biddle. “ I come from a generation that fired Nixon and nixed the Vietnam war and banished racism. We didn’t succeed at any of it but we tried. It required social movement.”
Other discussions included talk of the two party system and the corruption in elections today specifically with money.
“The party system doesn’t work,” said Alexander Bruce, a junior music major. “We end up with caricatures of politicians instead of real people.”
“There is this mentality that ‘I won the election’ versus ‘I get the opportunity to make the government better,” said Levi Minear, freshman class vice president and theatre major.
Junior Samira Parilla opened the event with the singing of the national anthem, accompanied by Scaglione. Discussion was broken up by Bruce’s reading of a political poem. Informational articles on the upcoming elections, the poem “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg, and a mock debate were provided at the front of the room for browsing before and after the event.
The Occupy Wallstreet claimed that they will be meeting again to discuss future movement within the Greensburg and SHU community.
“We are small in number but had a strong discussion,” said Harris.