Racial equality! Desegregate schools! Women’s suffrage! Gay rights!

Throughout United States history, so many movements for any sort of sociopolitical change were able to describe their goals with clear, direct, emphatic statements of purpose that can be reduced to a mere sentence—or even two words.

Flash-forward to the present—this is exactly the problem with the Occupy Movement. There’s a lot the movement wants to do. It wants to emphasize the large wealth gap in the nation, the dissolution of the “American dream.” It wants to emphasize that the current economy, as we know it, does not work, or else this wealth gap would not exist. It wants to blame the power of corporations and corporate interest for these problems. It wants to camp out in tents, for some reason. But most of all, it wants to start a discussion that highlights the very apparent problems in the hierarchical socio-politico-economic (in this era of modernity, so many qualifiers must be added!) structure that governs America, and how we can start to think about fixing them.

That’s a lot of stuff to emphasize.

You see, for all its catchy taglines of “we are the 99 percent,” neither its supporters nor its dissenters seem to be able to present a succinct statement of the movement’s aims. Media representation reveals a complex garble of interpretations. Indeed, the movement’s critics have argued that it’s almost impossible to summarize the movement’s goals at all, let alone in two words, or in a sentence—or even in two sentences.

And yet, even with this unclear mishmash of aims, a recent Reuters’ poll shows that less than 40 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the movement.

Now, let’s fast-forward to the Occupy Movement lurking in our very own Gothic Wonderland, a mini Krzyzewskiville with a political theme! Tents, tables and chairs dot the grassy quad in front of the chapel; a large sign reads “A democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth.” Another sign reads something like “Come talk to us!”

Hey, they managed to sum up the movement’s message in a sentence! And they want to inspire discussion about the problems in the economy! That’s good, right? Unlike Occupy Wall Street, however, it really does seem, to me at least, as if less than 40 percent of Duke’s campus supports the movement. Many think the effort is silly and an affront to the beauty of the Duke Chapel.

But why?

Maybe it’s because many people at Duke are, in fact, part of the 1 percent. They don’t want to feel guilty about being privileged. And hey, who can blame them? It’s not their fault. Maybe it’s because people are not sure how camping in tents in front of the Duke Chapel is an effective means of protest. And maybe the Chapel really is just extremely beautiful, and the tents in front of it do not lend it a proper aesthetic frame. That view is probably also somewhat justified.

Nevertheless, I also think too many people are scared of the language of the Occupy Movement, of the sign that speaks of democracy, or of the encampments that associate the movement with a scary sense of nationalism—all of which make it seem ineffective on a college campus.

But if we take the goals of the national movement and apply them locally to Duke, (which hopefully is what the Occupy Duke movement is trying to do, as they claim that they try to imagine Duke’s role in this socio-politico-economic landscape), there’s something interesting there. If we think of Duke as a corporation, and think only in the context of Duke’s social economy, have there been times where corporate interests put forth by the administration have come at the expense of Duke students, faculty and employees (the 99 percent of the Duke population, if you will)?

Well, yes! Here’s a recent example: A famous actress was not allowed to speak at Cameron Indoor Stadium for Countdown to Craziness, for what seems to be Duke’s association with companies that use conflict minerals. That’s not all. Our tuition increases every year, faculty cuts are made across several departments, Chem 152 recitations are eliminated (The most useful part of the Orgo 2 experience! Being pre-med is hard enough already!), yet Duke somehow finds the money to build a multi-million dollar campus in China. There has been a pretty scary lack of information, University-wide discourse and student and faculty input allowed in these important financial decisions.

Actually, if you’ve taken a look at the opinion pages of The Chronicle at all in the past year, it really does seem as if 99 percent of Duke’s population agrees that there needs to be more transparency and discussion about the corporate financial decisions made by Duke’s administration in those offices in the Allen Building.

And yet the majority of Duke’s population does not seem to support the Occupy Movement. Why are we so scared of a discourse that has, in effect, been happening all year long?

Indu Ramesh is a Trinity junior. Her column runs every other Wednesday.