Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU students host an Occupy Your Mind teach-in

Despite their differences, speakers from the FAU Police Department, Occupy FAU, Occupy Palm Beach County, College Republicans, College Democrats and a philosophy professor were able to sit at the same table for more than an hour — for the Occupy Your Mind teach-in.

The event was held on Thursday, at the Free Speech Lawn, as a project seniors did in their Civic Engagement class. Every year, students in the class organize a public event for their final. This year the event was about the Occupy movement, and it featured a panel of speakers. Between 80 to 100 students showed up to the teach-in, with hundreds more floating in and out between classes.

“This is not an Occupy protest, but this is an Occupy teach-in,” Laurie Gardner said, a senior in the class who gave the opening speech. Following her remarks, Steve Voronkov from the reggae funk band Bushwood performed live music. FAU PD’s Lt. Larry Irvin hopped up from his chair and joined Voronkov, singing “Imagine” by John Lennon together. After the live music and poetry came the panel.

Once the panelists started speaking, however, tempers flared. Occupy FAU speaker Gonzalo Vizcardo criticized campus police during his speech, saying, “This department is the most repressive university police department in the state.” When Irvin went up to talk about the freedom of speech, Vizcardo interrupted him.

“Communication is a two way street” Irvin said, who also told the crowd FAU PD has never tried to censor freedom of speech on campus. Vizcardo then listed dates, which he considered proof of his First Amendment right being taken away. “I’m just trying to call you out on your bullshit,” Vizcardo said.

Then Jeffrey Arnold spoke on behalf of the College Republicans. Not long into his speech, Arnold was interrupted by philosophy professor and main speaker of the teach-in Simon Glynn. After Glynn and Arnold quarreled about property ownership, Glynn spoke about Occupy’s political activism and why college students should get involved.

“You’re stuck in an economy that’s going down,” Glynn said about students working part-time and taking loans or financial aid to afford college. And although he criticized Florida’s public education, he did credit some FAU students as being the smartest he’s ever taught.

“We have a very small head of bright students, and a very long tail of underachievers,” Glynn said about the university. “The reason there are so many underachievers is they’re poorly prepared by the educational system.” He and the rest of the speakers on the panel were barely heard by the crowd.

They were hard to hear since the microphones and amplifiers originally set up, had to be taken down before the teach-in started. This is due to a university policy which does not allow student organizations to use amplified sounds without a permit.

“I didn’t get to hear most of it, I wish it were louder,” Patricio Coicou said. Coicou is a FAUCR member who was in the crowd.

Civic Engagement professor Becky Mulvaney organized the teach-in with her students and knew about the policy. “I think the policy needs to be changed,” she said. “No one has ever before come out to check our amplification.” Mulvaney hosted events with amplifiers in her past Civic Engagement classes without a problem.

“We had our setbacks, but I think it went very well,” Jennifer Braisted said, one of the committee chairs of the teach-in. Braisted and other students in the class decided together to focus their event on the Occupy movement. Charles Elliot, another senior in the Civic Engagement course added the Occupy theme was chosen for its relevance to students.

“At least we’re talking about something important,” FAU College Democrats President Boris Bastidas said about the theme. Although Arnold felt differently about the teach-in, Bastidas and Arnold did not interrupt each other.

“It was mostly the Occupy movement bashing the political establishment,” Arnold said, adding “they didn’t really offer any remedies.”

Glynn did, however, offer one in his speech saying, “The way we and the world will do well is public investment in education.”

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