Occupy UT releases disorientation manual in effort to spark activism

Max Bridges

Occupy UT, a student activist group, recently released a “Disorientation Field Manual” on their website to inform incoming students about their message.

The manual contains information about student activist groups, problems with the University and information about campus landmarks and activities.

The first disorientation guide was created at UT in 2001. The manual was updated in 2005 and again this summer for incoming freshmen.

“Our goal is to build a unified voice on campus and create student power,” Lucian Villaseñor, a member of Occupy UT, said. “The manual is a tool to bring new students up to speed and to get them interested about organizing on campus.”

If the manual interests them, Villaseñor said new Occupy UT members could learn more through teach-ins on the history of student activism, student organizing workshops and by attending activist potlucks.

“We are spreading the word using what has proven to work in the past: tabling and having one-on-one conversations with students on the ground,” Villaseñor said. “We pass out a quarter-page flier with a blurb about Occupy UT and a link to the ‘Disorientation Manual.’ We chat and answer questions freshman have as well as collect their contact info. The challenge will be to find ways to make them part of the organizing when we come back in the fall.”

According to the manual, students who want to engage in democratic activity are welcome to join Occupy UT.

“UT administrators run the school largely absent of meaningful democratic input from students, faculty, and staff. If you want to make a difference in politics and society while in college, you’ve come to the right place,” the manual said.

The manual also contains a history of activism on UT and the University’s alleged response to student activism during the 1970’s.

“Through architectural remodeling of the campus, the University has sidestepped issues about the right to assemble by taking away the ability to assemble,” the manual reads. “One example occurred in 1974 when the West Mall experienced its shaw of crowd-control tactics. It was transformed from an open grassy field to a concrete space full of planter boxes and an imposing fountain.”

Occupy UT has been working with many student activist organizations, such as Palestinian Solidarity Committee, United Students Against Sweatshops, University Leadership Initiative and the International Socialist Organization.

“We have to build a united front and work together if we want to make any long-term changes on campus,” Villaseñor said.