The national wave of protests against economic disparity arrived at Duke on a Saturday in October, when about thirty students set up tents and banners in front of Duke Chapel. Like their counterparts near Wall Street and elsewhere, the students hoped to encourage conversation about economic justice and rally against political leaders who endorse policies the protesters say are increasing the wealth gap in the U.S.
"Many times we say 'work hard, play hard,' but we don't really have time to think. This is a time for us to think about broad issues facing the Duke community and the nation," said Shreyan Sen '12, one of the student organizers, as the group sat in a circle on the grass shortly before the nearby walkway filled with fans returning from Duke's football game with Wake Forest.
"I think at Duke we sometimes live in a bubble. We want to have a substantive conversation and create debate on campus about difficult issues," said Casey Williams '14, another student in the circle, leading others to wiggle their upraised fingers in silent agreement.
The students said they expected Duke faculty members, staff, and others to join them for informal classes and discussions. They also created a Facebook site to promote online discussion.
"We're going to try to make this an atmosphere on campus where these kinds of issues can be discussed," said Anastasia Karklina '14, a Duke student from Latvia.
Students initiate Wall Street protest on campus
November 30, 2011