Zachary Staab
Assoc. News Editor

On the Thursday, April 18th Joan Mandle, the executive director of Democracy Matters, had dinner with members of the Millersville chapter of Democracy Matters from 4:30p.m. to 5:30p.m. and held a facilitated discussion following the showing of “Priceless” in Stayer Hall at 6:00p.m. Democracy Matters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan student political organization that advocates for pro-democracy reforms in issues such as civil rights, foreign policy, environment, and higher college tuition. The Democracy Matters branch at MU is still awaiting approval from the university to officially become a recognized organization and receive allocations.

Students engage in a facilitated discussion led by Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters.
Students engage in a facilitated discussion led by Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters.

Joan Mandle and Jay Mande are the adoptive parents of former 13-year veteran NBA player Adonis Foyle, who founded the organization in 2001. During her visit to MU, Mandle described what her life was like as the mother of an NBA player. “When Adonis was on Golden State, the players on the team called me and my husband mom and dad.” Much like her political views, Mandle believes that NBA players are often incapable of dealing with sensitive issues because of crippling corporate agendas.
“I’m very upset with the United States right now,” Mandle said, “There is an unbelievably large gap between very rich people and very poor people.” The idea of trickle-down economics is one of the biggest problems, Mandle continued, because how the government taxes people and what they actually do with their money is what matters. Citizens want to change the current stronghold that big oil, pharmaceutical, and other corporations have on politics, an issue that Mandle considers the lost cause of Occupy Wall Street.
Occupy Wall Street was the name given to a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011. The movement’s slogan, “we are the 99%,” refers to the uneven distribution of wealth between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. The protesters occupied Zuccotti Park until November 15, 2011, when the protesters were forced out of the park. The movement has been fizzling out since 2012, but smaller Occupy Wall Street operations are still held at banks, town halls, and the parking lots of big corporations. The reason Occupy Wall Street failed, according to Mandle, is because this generation does not understand that you have to be committed to making a change.
Joan Mandle, an avid public speaker, tries to schedule visits with at least 40 Democracy Matters chapters each year. Followed her dinner with Democracy Matters members, her facilitated discussion and documentary screening in Stayer Hall, to begin at 6p.m., was only 10 minutes away. As she walked over to Stayer Hall, Mandle disclosed her love of bird watching and calling, inevitably resulting in her rendition of bird calls. The documentary “Priceless” follows a filmmakers personal journey across America to answer a burning question: is campaign money involved in some of the governments out-of-date policies? Her facilitated discussion, which was not as well attended as MU members of Democracy Members would like, included titillating conversation about themes of the documentary.