Occupation of University stalled until permit clears

Photo by Igor Mello

By: Angel Vallejos/Staff Writer

The Occupy FIU movement shares a similar belief with one of the nation’s founding fathers Thomas Jefferson: a little rebellion every now and then was a good thing.

Occupy FIU had originally planned to start their protests on Wednesday, Nov. 16, but their permit was still being processed. They were granted permission, though, to protest while the permit was being processed. However, they were not allowed to set up tents and protest past 9 p.m. on that day.

Photo by Igor Mello

The protesters were set up on the western entrance of the Graham Center at the Modesto Maidique Campus. They plan to retry their occupation efforts once their permit has been processed and plan to occupy “indefinitely.”

The University does not restrict students from protesting, however.

“As long as they [Occupy FIU] don’t break any rules or disturb class or traffic flow, everybody is welcome here; it’s an open forum for people to express their beliefs,” said Lt. Frank Tomassini of FIU Police in a previous interview Student Media. “Non-University speakers, however, must register for a time and area in order to lecture.”

One protester said although FIU Police gave them a grace period after 9 p.m., they were never told why they couldn’t stay.

“We couldn’t stay past 9 p.m. but he [a police officer] said if you want to stay a bit past that it’s OK,” said Cindy Ariza a freshman at the University. “They didn’t explain why we couldn’t stay past 9 p.m., even though the University is open way past that time.”

Ariza noted that they looked for answers from the “legal department” as to why they were being restricted from bringing in tents and the time they were allotted, but got few answers.

However, FIU Police insisted that restrictions are put in place for safety reasons.

“We give them the opportunity to have those events until things take a turn for the worst, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Capt. Alphonse Ianniello in a previous interview Student Media in reference to an Occupy FIU event that took place on Nov. 3. “We have officers there to make sure the peace is kept.”

Occupy FIU was inspired by the Occupy protests that are occurring around the world. The international Occupy movement seeks to bring about changes to what they see as an unjust economic structure, and the Occupy FIU movement is much more localized.

They seek to bring an end to rising tuition costs, online fees, and other things that affect the student body.

“To me Occupy is all about fighting corporate greed, but Occupy FIU is more about student rights,” said Israel Bae, an engineering student at the University.

The Occupy movement has garnered a lot of publicity because it is a leaderless movement. But as one protester, freshman Cindy Ariza put it, “There is no leader because we are all equal.”

While there were only two students left protesting by 7 p.m., University student Laura Lopez said that shouldn’t lead people to underestimate the movement.

“Oh they [the Occupy movement] are plenty big,” Lopez said. “The problem is the people in power don’t seem to care.”

Additional reporting by Pattrik Simmons.

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