Balancing activism and school

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Megan Tiu, 18, sits at Occupy Atlanta headquarters.

By Anna Norris
Published for The Signal on gsusignal.com.

Through the side door on an art gallery building on Pine Street, a dingy stairway leads up to a large room scattered with mattresses, boxes, and chairs here and there. To the right is what the Occupiers call the “Day Room,” scantly furnished with a couch, a television, and a kitchen without running water. Handwritten quotes and diagrams cover the walls. This is Occupy Atlanta’s headquarters. This is where Megan Tiu, an 18-year-old dual-enrollment student at Georgia State University, spent a month last fall shortly after the Occupy Atlanta movement initiated.

Tiu has been involved with the movement since Oct. 10, 2011 the fourth day of the Occupation.

“I first became involved with Occupy Atlanta because I had heard about and supported Occupy Wall Street and was very excited to participate in something similar in my city and work to make positive change in the area as well as the nation,” says Tiu.

The typical day in Tiu’s life involves a lot of meetings, she says.

“Occupy Love” — Tiu met her boyfriend, Tripp, at Occupy Atlanta.

“I actually had some trouble with it last semester. When I’m constantly out protesting, planning, and organizing, there unfortunately isn’t as much time available for studying. Last semester, I had trouble finding balance and there were many papers written completely last-minute and definitely a lack of studying. I’m always able to attend class, though, which is something I assign a higher priority to than Occupy events.”

This semester, Tiu has tried to stay on track with school, although she did miss class to attend Occupy Congress in D.C., where she worked with other Occupiers to plan action in Atlanta. She says that Occupy AT&T was the first event she really had an active hand in planning.

“My usual role is that I’m one of the main people that facilitate our General Assemblies. As of late, I’ve done more action planning, like handling the logistics, flyers, and other things for the AT&T event.”

On Feb. 13, Tiu, Occupiers, and Teamsters alike gathered at the Peachtree-Pine shelter and loaded their supplies in a trailer provided by the Teamsters Local 728. They drove to the AT&T building and set up the occupation.

“As everything was being set up, arrests were being made inside the AT&T for the 12 people taking part in the sit-in,” says Tiu.

“Unfortunately, before the arrestees were taken away in the paddy wagon, I had to leave to take my Spanish exam.”

Occupy Atlanta Headquarters’ living room. Despite the lack of running water, the living room has a couch and a TV.

Tiu was back by 7 p.m. for the General Assembly. She says that balancing her classes with Occupy was not an easy task, especially with people trying to contact her about the logistics, but she made it work.

“The most inspiring part of working with Occupy Atlanta is being able to meet, spend time with, and work with so many different types of amazing people that are all involved to create positive change,” says Tiu. “That, along with the seeing real victories and changing lives when we win foreclosure battles.”

In only her second semester at Georgia State University and still a senior at Dutchtown High School, Tiu plans to stay at Georgia State University for at least the next year after she graduates in May. She plans to study film and intends to work in the television industry. She is considering a double minor in Political Science and Spanish.

Tiu says that many people from Georgia State University have become involved in the movement, including professors and students who have branched off to form Occupy GSU.

“I would very much like to bring about substantial change in our nation’s government, particularly in regards to campaign finance laws, the overturn of the Citizens United decision, and definitely a change in the police system,” says Tiu.

“Really, so much is broken in this country and seriously needs to change. Occupy can help with that. I truly want to create a better world in which all of us can live. A fair world. A caring world. Action must be taken immediately and bringing light to many of the issues plaguing society today is definitely a step in the right direction.”

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