USS and NSPE Host Second OWS Teach-In
With protests at Zuccotti Park heading into their seventh week, the University Student Senate and The New School for Public Engagement’s deans office sponsored yet another Occupy Wall Street teach-in at The New School on November 1.
The event, held in the Lang Cafe at 65 W. 11 St., was the most recent attempt at The New School to connect the university community to the ideas and inspirations behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. The university hosted a much larger, all-day teach-in on October 22, which featured numerous panels and discussions involving New School faculty and students.
Roughly 30 people attended the November 1 teach-in, billed as “A Financial Insider’s View of the Crisis and its Causes.” Ed McCartin, a former governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, was in attendance to discuss on the ongoing impact of corporate and federal banking on the national economy.
“The everyday person’s interactions with banks might be just light, subtle touches,” McCartin said. “But the scope of banking is so much broader… These institutions are privatizing profits and socializing risk.”
Following roughly a quarter-century of financial deregulation – enabled by legislation like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – many investment banks, commercial banks and insurance companies merged into larger and more powerful entities. As a result, financial conglomerates have become “too big to fail,” a term popularized in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
Faculty members such as Carol Overby, associate professor of design and management at Parsons, hoped that the teach-in provided a timely, yet impartial addition to the community’s questions regarding financial futures. Overby brought students from her financial management class to the teach-in.
“My goal is to help people make sense of the complex ideas of finance,” said Overby, also a business coordinator for The New School for Public Engagement. “This teach-in has been extremely helpful in connecting with students and other people who need to hear these issues being discussed.”
“The idea is not to lead students one way over the other, but to show facts,” said Simon Doucet of the financial management department at Parsons. “Through these facts [at the teach-in], students will then be able to ask further questions and continue with the discussion.”
While the teach-in was videotaped for future viewing, McCartin still plans on providing the university with similar in-person discussions long after the demonstrations at Zuccotti Park and around the country.
“We can’t create our own political action committee,” McCartin said. “We can’t go down and compete with billions of dollars. But we can keep the demonstration and discussion alive.”
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