As thousands took to the streets and port in Oakland, Saint Mary's College students and professors brought the Occupy Wall Street movement to Moraga this week.

Students held a pair of "Occupy SMC" teach-ins on campus Wednesday and Thursday, with professors of politics, history and economics sharing their perspectives on the Occupy movement and students encouraging their peers to learn and get involved.

"Now it's time for schools to do what they do best -- educate and learn," student Frank Martinez said as he kicked off Wednesday's teach-in, scheduled for this week's hour-and-a half "Community Time," a weekly time during which no classes are held.

Unlike the massive protests on the other side of the Berkeley hills, the event at Saint Mary's had a relaxed feel. Dozens of students sat in the sun on blankets or picnic benches as music blared from the stage; others stopped to listen while passing by.

Students organizing the teach-in said they were hoping to promote awareness of the political and economic issues around the Occupy movement.

"It's not necessarily about Republican or Democratic anymore; it's more about just including everyone, just to let people know they are a part of it," said junior Lara Trikha.

The afternoon, however, had an unmistakable left-leaning bent. One professor spoke about the need for "rebellion against globalization." Another recounted his experience organizing a prisoners' hunger strike.


Advertisement

All stressed the importance of youth involvement in enacting social change.

"You are the hope of the world. All eyes are on you," politics professor Hisham Ahmed told students. "The youth have always been in the vanguard of change all over the world."

Junior Corey Fedor, who roused the crowd with an updated version of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," said he was surprised how few of his peers knew about the Occupy movement.

"This is a rather isolated school, not only geographically but financially," said Corey Fedor. "Considering our proximity to Oakland, for kids to not know about it, that's not OK."

Several students carpooled to Oakland following the teach-in to join the general strike Wednesday night.

Politics professor Patrizia Longo was happy to see students getting involved.

"For the students to be engaged, that's what I teach, that's what I want students to do," Longo said.

Discussing important national and world issues in a classroom setting is "part of the Saint Mary's way," said college spokesman Mike McAlpin.

"The Occupy movement is very much on the minds of many of our students," he said.

Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/sosaysjonathan.