For some at Penn, Occupy movement fails to ring true
Some students feel that Wharton — as well as Penn as a whole — has been unfairly targeted by the movement
November 3, 2011, 11:18 pm · Updated November 7, 2011, 1:04 am·
Over one-quarter of Penn households earn more than $250,000 per year.
This number, while often ignored on campus, has garnered attention due to the Occupy Philadelphia movement that has gained momentum over the past few months. On Oct. 21, Occupy Philadelphia protesters entered Huntsman Hall. Friday, a teach-in will be held at the same location by a new student group, OccupyPenn.
Some students feel that Wharton — as well as Penn as a whole — has been unfairly targeted by the movement.
“I don’t believe that the entirety of Penn is the one percent or the entirety of Wharton is the one percent,” College junior Matthew Lorenzo said. “I just feel as if they view Wharton and Penn as [responsible] for creating this one percent.”
Many protesters seem to find fault in capitalism and are making an association between having money and being corrupt or in the wrong, Lorenzo said.
College senior Greg Grockenberger also disagreed with the anti-capitalist sentiment found within the movement. Occupy Philadelphia’s “socialist purposes” are ironic, he claimed, as government interference and regulation was the initial cause of the nation’s problems.
But the irony doesn’t end there, Grockenberger said. The protesters have a sense of “ironic entitlement” — he believes many people make bad economic decisions or poor choices, but then want the government to give them money or support them.
“They seem to think they hold a monopoly on virtue,” he said, adding that he believes welfare can dampen people’s incentives to better themselves through hard work — “an ideal our country was founded on.”
Grockenberger has visited City Hall and seen the Occupy Philadelphia protesters; he does not feel that he can relate to the movement, regardless of his economic standing.
“Where my heart is, I’d have to say I’m with the one percent.”
Grockenberger also found that, like the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street has become “amorphous” over time, even accepting donations from large corporate sponsors they often decry. In his opinion, the movement has diverged from its core message and has become more about “advocating for free stuff.”
Wharton sophomore Daniel Ortiz believes that protesters are upset because they are not part of the one percent. Those who attend college and work hard, he explained, are ultimately able to achieve “a comfortable lifestyle both financially and personally.”
Though students may be working hard at school, statistics suggest that not all of them feel as if they are on an even playing field when it comes to economic background. According to the 2011 Enrolled Students Survey, the upper 13 percent of Penn families earn $300,000 or more, and the lower 12 percent earn $50,000 or less. When students were asked whether peers respected each other regardless of economic status, 24 percent disagreed — a higher percentage than religion, political beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Still, others believe that students are just as uninformed as the protesters. Wharton junior Alex Evanczuk often finds that other students don’t understand the movement and focus more on how the protesters are getting their message across versus the actual issues.
“They take the crazies to represent the whole movement,” Evanczuk said.