About a month ago, Wilfred Chan of IvyGate claimed that there was very little evidence “that anybody at Princeton gives a damn” about Occupy Wall Street or any campus extension of the protest. While there are opportunities at almost every other Ivy League school to show support for the movement, nothing seems to be happening in Princeton, he said. Well, guess again, Chan!
Occupy Wall Street has come to Princeton. By now, you must have seen either the poster hanging outside the Wa or the other one posted by the Dinky. Impossible to miss, they read: “Occupy The Streets, Sundays @ 2 p.m.” followed by “meet outside the Princeton Public Library, bring your bike, helmet, friends, signs, costumes, noisemakers, etc.” In the center is the picture of a fist, held up in the air, vice-gripping what is either a bicycle or someone’s balls (take a look and tell me you don’t see it).
Inspired by what she saw at Occupy Wall Street, Carolyn McCrath, a local Princeton community member decided to organize these weekly gatherings. The main effort of the protest is to spread the message of Occupy Wall Street, to represent the 99 percent that, as group member Andrew Condouris said to the Princeton Packet, are “'enslaved' by the 1%.”And just how do the protestors spread this message? By also taking on the cause of Critical Mass, a movement which asserts the cyclist’s right to share the road with vehicles. They ride their bikes in the middle of the roads of Princeton, slowing down traffic. Because, apparently, nothing says “We are the 99 percent” quite like six or so people going for a bike ride around Princeton. Here is everything “Occupy The Streets: Princeton” has to offer you.
First: Low time commitment. Always wanted to be part of a protest but didn’t want to actually commit to more than an hour or two a week? Then this one is perfect for you. Sure, consistency and longevity would be useful in a protest. But who has the time for that? Here, you can look like you are trying to make a difference without having to put in the work to actually make a difference.
Second: Costumes. You were probably pretty upset that you only got to wear your Halloween costume once. Well, now you can celebrate Princetoween every Sunday, which, one can only assume, also means that you can get drunk in the middle of the day. Nobody can judge you if it is in the name of the protest (heck, they’ll expect it).
Third: Rebellion. Here is your chance to show that you are a true protester, a man of the people, by getting into some skirmishes with the law — maybe even Public Safety! The posters definitely imply that there will be some trouble a-brewin’ — trouble that requires both a helmet and noisemakers. So, if nothing else, you are guaranteed to piss off almost all of the drivers behind you. Plus, it has been rumored that Cornel West will make an appearance, meaning you will at least get to see someone being arrested.
Fourth: Friends. You are guaranteed to meet some like-minded individuals at these protests. Plus, the group is so underground and hip that its Facebook page is still at zero likes; it is a guaranteed hipster meeting point.
Occupy The Streets: Princeton may be community-run, but it has all the passion of the protests going on at other campuses, such as University of California at Berkeley. As of right now, very few students, if any, seem to be actually involved. And the amount of people who attend the weekly protests averages around the amount of people who can fit into Small World. And if you plan on attending the weekly protest, you may or may not be able to find it. The protestors are easily mistaken for ordinary people on bikes.
Unfortunately, there is no promise that you will see any results from your protests with Occupy The Streets: Princeton. But if you expected anything different, that was your own fault. Because, let’s face it, it’s just you and six other people riding your bikes and wearing costumes like it is still Halloween. If you wanted an actual sense of having participated in a protest, you probably should have taken the train over to Occupy Wall Street in New York City instead. Just be glad that we have any sort of protest evolved beyond one person outside the post office singing Bob Dylan to passersby.
So go out, all of you, and join the movement right here in Princeton! It is sure to be about as fun as the Orange and Black Ball.
Kinnari Shah is a sophomore from Washington, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.