Students across the country made good on their word Thursday, coming out in droves to support the youth Occupy movement and advocate for affordable, accessible and democratic higher education. Frustrated by rising tuition and student debt, and their lack of influence on the system, students made major waves in the fall with rallies and protests reminiscent of Thursday’s nationally coordinated “Day of Action.” But things slowed down over the winter break, and Thursday was an attempt to get back into the national spotlight.
The most well-attended protests took place, as expected, in California and New York City, where several hundred students rallied. Students in the Washington, D.C., area also had a notable turnout for their march to Sallie Mae and the U.S. Education Department, and the University of Maryland occupation tweeted that Education Secretary Arne Duncan promised to respond to their list of demands within a week. Protesters in Alabama, Ohio and Texas were active on the Twitter streams. Students at DePaul University said they “seized” an administration office. Although police were on hand on many campuses and city streets, there appeared to be no major confrontations (unlike past rallies). One person drove a car through a group of about 150 students who blocked the entrance to the University of California at Santa Cruz campus, but nobody was seriously injured. Most classes had been canceled in light of the protests, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.