The Prospector

Occupy movement changes focus, aims at colleges

By Henry Arrambide

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013


The Prospector

A group of more than 200 El Pasoans–including many UTEP students–gathered Oct. 7 to discuss details of a protest that took place Oct. 15 at the San Jacinto Plaza in Downtown El Paso.

By Henry Arrambide

The Prospector

No longer a gathering of campers sitting in protest at San Jacinto Plaza, Occupy El Paso has changed into a group of people of different ages engaged in a variety of social and political issues. Currently, they have planned an Occupy Colleges event, which will be held on the UTEP campus.

"Miners without Borders, a UTEP student organization, will be sponsoring Occupy Colleges on Feb. 29 and March 1," said Josiah Heyman, professor of sociology and anthropology and Occupy El Paso participant. "We are going to have teach-ins about the situation of higher education, costs of tuition, public support, student loans, cost of materials, books and all of the factors that affect higher education."

The event will take place at Leech Grove, and according to Heyman, the teach-ins about higher education issues will happen multiple times over the course of the two days. Additionally, at 3 p.m. Feb. 29, there will be a teach-in event focused on public education below the university level, along with an event March 1 from Amnesty International.

Miners Without Borders will be having a used-book sale, and there are currently plans in the works for musical entertainment.

Heyman also said they are going to have a lot of information on multiple topics available, with the goal of connecting the lives of UTEP students to greater issues at large such as the widening gap of income inequality, the increase of corporate money in politics and issues such as NAFTA.

"I want students to be more aware of how money works, how it plays into our education and how much money we have to pay to get an education," said Orlando Cordova, freshman digital media production major and Occupy El Paso participant. "We've been told our whole lives that if we go to college, we'll get a good job afterwards, but a lot of people are finding that not to be true, and the cost of tuition has risen dramatically over the past 20 or 30 years, whereas people's salaries haven't really matched that. So there's a disconnect between the value these people believe they're paying for and what they're really getting out of it."

The event will also host a petition table at Leech to collect student signatures for, a website that promotes social change.

"They've been able to make some palpable change through that petition system and signature gathering," Cordova said. "It lets congressmen and lawmakers know how we feel and what we want to be done and how we want the law of the land to be."

Occupy El Paso organizers hope the event will draw more students to their cause. In the case of Noemi Cortez-Calderon, senior sociology major, the event has already gotten her attention. She asked for permission to leave work early to attend a general assembly, which was held on Feb 24.

"I wish I could come more often," Cortez-Calderon said. "I really like the Occupy Colleges event, that was pretty much my main motivator to ask for permission to leave work. I really like it because sometimes I think that students are not involved because they don't know that they can be involved. So I think events like this really kind of draw people in by getting information out. You can't change what you don't know about, and things like this are about letting people know what's going on."

The Occupy organizers said that those who want to get involved should contact them through their Facebook page or They hold frequent meetings and post times and locations for general assemblies and upcoming events online.

"I really do like events like this," Cortez-Calderon said. "I also heard about the Human Rights convention and NAFTA stuff and I keep track of what they're doing. I can't really attend most of them, but I really do like them and hope it continues."

Henry Arrambide may be reached at


Be the first to comment on this article!

Click here to leave a comment
View full site