Protest signs bearing phrases like "People Before Profits" and "What About Economic Justice?" lined the hallway leading to Smith Auditorium on Tuesday.

Over 100 individuals gathered in the auditorium that afternoon to partake in the inaugural Occupy Bowdoin Teach-In, organized by Robbie Benson '14 and Ricardo Zarate '13.

Less than one-third of the crowd was composed of Bowdoin students, while the rest was made up of residents from the greater Brunswick area.

Visiting Assistant Professor Nicholas Toloudis, Associate Professor Kristen Ghodsee and Artist-in-residence Thomas Cornell led the panel discussion alongside Lisa Savage '77, the coordinator of the Maine branch of Code Pink, an anti-war organization.

The panel discussed a variety of issues pertaining to the "Occupy" movement, hitting on its popularity among college students as well as its future and purpose.

"There has been a noticeable degeneration of political trust in this country that has been going on, I would argue, for at least a decade, probably even longer than that," said Toloudis, who also admitted his early skepticism of the movement's momentum. "The levels of economic equality and the decline of political trust make the United States look like a country that we would not usually want to compare ourselves to."

Ghodsee noted how the media has increasingly referred to the current generation of college students as "Generation Jobless" due to the chronically high unemployment rate in the United States.

She also said that in 10 years at Bowdoin, she had never heard of an open forum to discuss issues of social inequality, and the very fact that it was occurring legitimized the positive ramifications of the "Occupy" movement.

Next on the panel, Lisa Savage reflected on an era when it was assumed that unemployment meant one did not work hard enough.

She echoed wider "Occupy" sentiments when she said that these problems are not personal troubles resulting from individual shortcomings, but rather flaws in societal institutions that are pervasive nationwide.

"In my lifetime, the message was basically, 'if you're poor, that's because you did something wrong, so be ashamed',' said Savage. "What I see as the big turning point here and now is that people have thrown off their shame about not being in the 1 percent. Something's really wrong here. Thank the goddess that the freshmen at Bowdoin College are sitting around having these conversations."

Savage also played her own video footage of Occupy Augusta protestors who demonstrated at Governor LePage's mansion last week.

Once the panel discussion was concluded, the floor was opened for questions and answer and debate.

Many current Bowdoin students in the auditorium voiced serious concerns about the apathy of discussion regarding the movement on campus.

First year Matthew Goodrich told the Orient that he was surprised that Savage praised Bowdoin student engagement.

"In my understanding, people were largely apathetic and there's this pseudo-intellectual malaise here at Bowdoin," he said. "People would rather theorize about [the problem] than actually put it into practice. I have a lot of respect for the people who have actually gone to the movements."

Dialogue on the floor was fairly evenly divided between students and other community members—the latter group representing everyone from a man arrested for his work in the Occupy Augusta movement to a woman who works in a homeless shelter in Portland.

Though many people voiced their faith in "Occupy" protests—and were met with loud clapping and cheers from the audience—debate arose over the movement's future, the relatively low number of minority participants, and the effectiveness of anger and blame within the movement.

"While I agree with the crusade, I wouldn't say that I agree with the crusaders," said Josh Burger-Caplan '14 in an interview with the Orient. "I believe in greater income equality, but I don't believe that people should be blamed for following the trend of the market and for paying people for what they're willing to be paid."

Both students and community members voiced their belief that the movement needed redirection and organization.

One woman in the audience who had attended Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington noted the tight web of organization that had led the civil rights movement, describing her desire for a similar plan for "Occupy."

"The people who make up Occupy Wall Street know enough to sense that a tipping point is at hand," stated a November 20 New York Times article. "The media do not have to go along with the pretense that there is something intrinsically virtuous about a movement with no leaders."

"It's a long time since I've felt the optimism I used to feel," said one man toward the end of the meeting. He stated his belief that cynicism—and not optimism—could be the downfall of the movement.

Those interested in joining Occupy Brunswick are encouraged to meet at Howell House at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning to rally for the protest at the gazebo at the center of town.