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Local Students Ignore Call For ‘Walk Out’ Protest

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Demonstrators gather to call for the occupation of Wall Street (credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – Organizers of the Occupy Wall Street protest Wednesday called on college students across the nation to walk out of class as a way to show their support for the cause.

But students speaking to WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey at the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus said they planned to stay put.

“I keep my priorities straight here, understand I guess that I’m paying for college … I’m not gonna walk out,” said one student at U-M’s Ross School of Business. “I guess for a greedy Wall Street person, I don’t know how that’s gonna do anything.”

While they said that they understand the message, some students said they believe there are better ways to express it.

The liberal group MoveOn.org is planning a “virtual march” on its website by encouraging people to post photos of themselves with the caption: “I’m the 99 percent” — a reference to those people not among the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans and the debate over whether they should be taxed more.

“I mean, I understand it, the ‘I’m the 99 percent’ … I’m actually an economics major,” said one U-M student, adding that the Wall Street protest isn’t exactly something to put on your resume.

“This is my way to not be the 99 percent … to be here, being in class, learning, getting a degree and hopefully getting a better job.  That’s the whole point, is that competition to be that 1 percent,” said another student. “I guess I’m not going to give up my competition here just to support the movement, I’ve gotta say.”

One young business student said he hadn’t even heard about the protest because he’s had three job interviews.

Meantime, the protests on Wall Street, the fabled center of American commerce, are expected to swell with reinforcements as more groups head toward lower Manhattan Wednesday.

Among those planning to join the clamor are community organizations like the Working Families Party and United NY. The growing crowd will also include members of the Chinatown Tenants Union and the Transit Workers Union, signaling that the protest is showing no signs of losing steam.

“I think they’re capturing a feel of disempowerment, feeling like nobody is listening to them,” said Camille Rivera, executive director of United NY. “What do you do when no one is listening to you? You speak up, you take action.”

MoveOn.org’s executive director, Justin Ruben, called the protesters “brave young people” who have successfully inspired others to join them.

“From our perspective, we’re protesting kind of the greed that led to the collapse of our economy,” Ruben said. “The fact that these banks aren’t paying their fair share.”

- More on the Wall Street protests at this link –

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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