Occupy Summer School

Nov 8th, 2015 • Category: Education

By ADEDAYO PERKOVICH, age 11

Along with UAI Principal Kiri Soares, Cathy O’Neil, an Occupy activist, Barnard math professor and former hedge-fund analyst, helped to start Occupy Summer School. PHOTO: Mathematical Association of America/Flickr
Along with UAI Principal Kiri Soares, Cathy O’Neil, an Occupy activist, Barnard math professor and former hedge-fund analyst, helped to start Occupy Summer School. PHOTO: Mathematical Association of America/Flickr

When you think of your average high school in July, you might imagine silent hallways and empty classrooms. This summer, at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women (UAI) in Brooklyn, teen girls full of ideas and action participated in Occupy Summer School, a three-week course on how to stage an effective protest.

Occupy Summer School was started by Occupy Alternative Banking, an organization founded in 2011 after the Occupy Wall Street protests. UAI Principal Kiri Soares spoke to the New Yorker about how her students “would have these really deep-seated feelings about unjust things that were happening to them, but they don’t always know how to identify or articulate it.” Cathy O’Neil, former hedge-fund analyst and one of the founders of Occupy Alternative Banking, suggested Occupy Summer School.

During the course, organizers and union members spoke to the teens about protest strategies. The students were interested in many different issues and chose to organize a protest against gender and racial inequality. They held a bake sale where they pretended to sell sweets at different prices for different groups to spark conversations about wage discrimination. “We’re an all-female school,” senior Shavonnie Victor told her class. “We’re going to protest the things that we see because we’re females. Bam!”

The students have vowed to continue the work that they began at Occupy Summer School by self-organizing an after-school program, Project Occupy, at UAI this fall.

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