Anti-Wall Street protest comes to campus at Penn
Diana Fung, University of Pennsylvania
It was an unusual Monday afternoon. As I was walking to Huntsman Hall for my management class, I saw a mob standing outside the building. The protesters were holding signs that said 'Sold out' and 'Congress, how could you?'
As I squeezed my way through the crowd, I saw even more protesters in the lobby. One of them said to me: 'No Wall Street!'
That's right - the Occupy Wall Street crowd came to my school.
The mob's decision to occupy the Wharton School of Business was triggered by United States House Republican leader Eric Cantor's scheduled appearance to speak on income inequity at a lecture hosted by the school. After learning about the movement, he quickly cancelled the speech out of concern that protesters would fill all the seats.
I stood on the balcony above the activists, trying to comprehend what was happening. Clearly, many students found the situation exciting. Most of us took out our iPhones and BlackBerries to take pictures of the event.
Other students were annoyed by the disruption and jeered at the protesters, chanting 'Get a job!' to the mob.
Many of my classmates updated their Facebook status to 'Get off our school!'
In class, our professor took the time to ask us what we thought about the movement. She told us that last year more than half of the graduates from Wharton entered the finance industry.
Yet, despite some of my classmates' anger at the protesters, I tried to understand their views.
Before the economy plunged in 2008, I had rarely heard of any resentment against the finance industry. Things were going well, and many people benefited from buying and selling stocks and real estate.
But now that the economy is in bad shape, everyone is blaming the finance industry.
It is undeniable that the finance sector did play its part in causing the financial crisis.
Yet didn't we all help build the bubble that was bound to burst eventually? Is it fair to place all blame on the finance sector alone for people's own greed, when they took out loans they could not repay?
Students at Penn have conflicting views about working in the finance sector. Some students are truly passionate about the field, while others are only out to try and get rich quick.
Perhaps this anti-Wall Street movement will force us to reflect what motivates our desire to find a job in the finance sector. Is it because we want to make a difference or is it just because we want to be rich?