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FEBRUARY 17, 2012
Occupy movement and "Chilean Winter" share similar goals
By Haley Hawkins
Since its recent entrance into the public consciousness,
America's Occupy Movement has become a household name,
so to speak. It is an iconic symbol of the whole and the plight
of the collective. But, is it truly pluralistic in regards to race, age
and gender? Is this is what makes the movement so appealing
and, yet, so open to critique?
These questions are all well and good, but let's look at this
American movement within an international context.
In Chile, 23-year-old Camila Vallejo has started her own
popular uprising. Its title? The Chilean Winter. Its slogan? "We
are the 90%."
Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?
In focusing on eliminating educational inequality resulting
from entrenched social class disparity, Vallejo—^vice president
of the Student Federation of die University of Chile—^has
taken the world by storm. In fact, Vallejo, who identifies as
a communist, was voted person of the year for the British
newspaper "The Guardian," gamering 78 percent of votes in a
poll of readers.
Why is it that this relatively little-known public figure
received this honor? Well, I have a few guesses. First of all,
in addition to furthering her cause of educational equality in
Chile, Vallejo has become the poster child for protestors' rights,
enforcing respect for the peaceful demonstrator and asserting
her right to go against the grain of society.
Furthermore, it is more than notable that she
is a young female. While they do exist, highly
publicized female activists are rare. How many
23-year-old women have you heard of that have
made such an immense international impact and
gained deserved attention for it?
Finally, this issue of educational inequality has
echoed around the globe.
"The student movement here (in Chile) is
permanently connected to other student
movements, principally in Latin America, but
also in the world," Vallejo says. "We believe this
reveals something fundamental: that there is a
global demand for the recovery and defense of
the right to education."
So, while the Chilean Winter may be vastly
different from that of the Occupy Movement,
there are similarities that cannot be ignored. The Occupy Movement is not only found in cities across America. In Chile, the
After all, Occupy protestors, while stri^ng to The Chilean Winter is bringing protestors, mainly students, to the
demand that the needs of the majority be met, ^ or
have faced alarming opposition and aggression ^
against their organized protest—much like the opposition educational equality and, by translation, equality among social
You may have never known that the ideals of a 23-year-old
female Chilean communist could resonate so close to home.
You may have never realized that unification can result from
Well, maybe, just maybe, it can.
which Vallejo continues to fight against in Chile.
The Occupy Movement also prides itself on exhibiting the
principle of inclusion—and this certainly means young female
activists, people who do not fit into the minuscule 1%.
And if there is one thing that unites these two movements
and makes them one global initiative, it is the demand for
Guilford's $500,000 grant part of a consorvativo agonda
A RESPONSE TO JANE MAYER'S ARTICLE, "A STATE FOR
SALE," IN THE OCTOBER ISSUE OF THE NEW YORKER
By Richie Zweigenhaft
Principled Problem Solving program.
It does not seem like all that much monev
— $50,000 a year for ten years, in a budget that
runs around $50-$60 million per year — but
the college's acceptance of the grant, and the
When a member of the college's chapter
of the American Association of University
Professors (AAUP) asked that the faculty
discuss the process by which this grant was
accepted, the Clerk's Committee agreed to
put the topic of the process by which the
college accepts grants with curricular strings
attached on the agenda at the November
faculty meeting (the faculty was asked not
to discuss the BB&T grant itself), and the
general topic was discussed at some length
Jane Mayer's excellent article in the
October 2011 issue of The New Yorker ("A
State for Sale") helped to place Guilford's faculty's acquiescence to it, raise fundamental
ten-year $500,000 BB&T grant in the larger
North Carolina and national perspective.
Mayer showed how millions of dollars
from "conservative multi-millionaire"
9ront for $500,000 that Guilford College
“lotin 2009 included the stipulation that students in
“edtra”w“ certain classes read Ayn Rand's 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged."
The greni “Iso stipulated that students who major in business
one economics are to receive "free" copies of the novel at the
beginning of their junior year, as are certain students in the
:4rp"ub‘.rcc“-/u« •’’■'"t'P'ee Problem Solving program.
private schools as well.
Mayer's article shows quite clearly how
the foundations that Art Pope supports have — —
sought to influence college curricula, making
the materials in classes, and sometimes issues about who determines the curriculum, during that meeting and, subsequently, at the
creating entirely new programs, friendlier to about faculty governance, about the nature of December meeting.
the free-market version of capitalism, and to higher education these days, and about the There was, however, no consensus. In fact,
arguments for the ethical nature of capitalism, kind of society we hope to be. the faculty was not able even to approve the
The ten-year grant for $500,000 that The college announced the grant during following statement: "The acceptance of all
Guilford College accepted in 2009 included the summer of 2009, much to the surprise gifts that involve the creation of new courses
the stipulation that students in certain classes of all but very few faculty members. By and/or academic programs is provisional
read Ayn Rand's 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged." the time most students and faculty returned pending the completion of the normal
The grant also stipulated that students who to campus for the fall 2009 semester, they approval procedures."
major in business and economics are to receive seemed to have little interest in the fact that The college faced hard economic times
"free" copies of the novel at the beginning of Guilford had made this ten-year commitment in 2009, and it still does. Many faculty
their junior year, as are certain students in the (if they were aware of it at all). understandably were worried about
their jobs, especially those who taught in
departments that had been eliminated at
other colleges and universities. Even if they
had qualms about the grant, or about the way
it was accepted, few were willing to raise
questions about a $500,000 grant just because
it required some students in some classes to
read Atlas Shrugged.
We are now in year three of the ten-
year grant. Meyer's New Yorker article
reveals clearly how money from conservative
foundations has affected both North Carolina
politics and what students read and talk
about in certain college courses.
Therefore, as those Guilford students
enrolled in classes in which they are required
to read Atlas Shrugged examine her novel, and
those business and economics juniors enjoy
the benefits of receiving a "free" copy of it,
and as those of us who attend the on-campus
presentations by speakers who address
issues like Rand's place in American culture,
we should all keep in mind that wealthy
supporters of Ayn Rand have underwritten
her recent ascendancy in academic discourse
at Guilford and elsewhere.
The grant that Guilford College accepted
was part of a much larger conservative
agenda that has sought to redefine the nature
of higher education in the state of North
Richie Zweigenhaft, Dana Professor of
Psychology at Guilford College, is the coauthor
of a series of books on the American power
structure (most recently. The New CEOs:
Women, African American, Latino and Asian
American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies).
He wrote about this grant in the July-August
2010 issue of "Academe" (“Is This Curriculum