Occupy WKU group meets

Tyler Prochazka

Across the United States there have “occupations” of cities and towns, originating in New York City with the “Occupy Wall Street” protests.

Inspired by these movements, Louisville sophomores Peyton Crenshaw and Ellie Osborne decided to bring the message to WKU.

Crenshaw and Osborne hosted the first meeting for “Occupy WKU” on Thursday night to ask students and community members what the goals and tactics of the group should be.

“This is a leaderless movement,” Crenshaw said. “We don’t have someone we can go to tell us what should be done.”

Catherine Carey, a professor of economics at WKU, said she respects the rights of these groups to protests and understands their frustrations, but feels their efforts are misguided. She said the groups have a legitimate concern about corporatism, or when businesses are able to get special favors from the government.

“Corporatism and capitalism are not the same thing, and I don’t think the protesters understand that,” Carey said. “Our system has created more economic wealth in terms of goods and services that people value than any other economic system.”

Louisville senior Josh Brown has attended some of the nationwide protests in Washington D.C. and in New York City after being inspired by a class about America’s history of dissent.

The Occupy Wall Street protest in New York was “chaotic,” Brown said.

Those who attended the WKU meeting had broad views on what should be protested by the group — a full audit of the Federal Reserve, income tax disparities and the Koch brothers.

According to Crenshaw, though, the “core” focus of the movement is to end corporate influence in politics.

Carey said that some of the proposals offered by the “Occupy” movement would “inflict more economic harm on the very people they wish to help, including themselves.”

“Good politics filled with good intentions does not always make good economics,” Carey said.

In order to spread the message of the movement, Osborne said one option is to protest.

“[Occupy Wall Street] is a nonviolent movement on a scale our generation hasn’t seen, and it really does have the power to create change,” she said. “I haven’t seen our generation get riled up about something like this.”

There have been more than 800 cities with “Occupy” protests across the globe, and the movement is still growing, Crenshaw said. Before protests at WKU, Crenshaw said her first goal is to get the message out.

“A lot of people I’ve talked to don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “Why would they walk out if they don’t know what we’re doing?”

Since Bowling Green is a relatively small town, Osborne said, one of the goals should also be to get WKU students to join larger “Occupy” protests in the area.

“If we donate our support to a bigger occupation it can have a big effect,” Osborne said.

Brown said one of the reasons Kentucky and other Midwest states were not involved in the protests is because the youth feel “apathetic” to the political process.

Brown said he hopes as time goes on, that will begin to change and students will be inspired to protest as well.

The group plans to meet again at 7 p.m.  Thursday. Details on where the group will meet can be found on its Facebook page, “Occupy Western Kentucky University,” once it has been decided.