Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party hot topics at Abington Teach-In

Are Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party losing steam? Does Occupy Wall Street have enough focus to impact the outcome of the next election cycle? With the Republican primary at hand and the general election looming, nearly 60 members of the Penn State Abington community gathered to contemplate the Occupy and Tea Party movements at the campus’ first Teach-In last week.

Four faculty panelists, representing an array of political perspectives, kicked off the conversation with brief personal statements regarding the current political, social and economic challenges facing all Americans but particularly college students.

In her opening remarks, Debra Casey, associate professor of business at the campus, asked the standing room only crowd, “The current state of the economy is not what we were raised to anticipate. Does our psychological contract with respect to our expectations need to change?”

The Abington Academic Environment Committee (AEC) is considering a range of contentious topics for future Teach-Ins as well as preparing to address any major emerging news. The goal, according to the committee, is to educate students about issues beyond the sound bites. The AEC believes the Teach-Ins are in line both with President Erickson's promise to "encourage dialogue with students, faculty, alumni and other members of the Penn State community" as well as Abington Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler's call to "cooperate and collaborate to support our students."

One student voiced her appreciation for the effort. “This is a great way to spend Common Break. A lot of students don’t have time to sit down and think about these topics otherwise,” she said, as the crowd in Woodland Commons left for their afternoon classes.

The first Teach-In was moderated by Ross Brinkert, assistant professor of corporate communication. In addition to Casey, the panelists were Lonnie Golden, professor of economics; Dan Cirucci, lecturer in corporate communication; and Tom Warms, assistant professor of computer science. Subsequent Teach-Ins will feature different panelists.

For pictures from the Occupy Wall Street versus the Tea Party Teach-In, go to www.facebook.com/PennStateAbington.