I'm asking myself whether I'd react similarly if there had been a tea-party class in poli sci at Liberty University or somewhere, back when the tea party was a significant grass-roots presence.
I don't know how I'd answer on that one -- after all, they showed up for 3 hours, melted away, then showed up again in 3 months, by and large. The OWS guys appear to be a long-haul movement, with plenty of "field work" to be done.
Do you know the % of people at OWS who also had tea party sympathies? I don't. Since there are similarities in some of their rhetoric, but since they are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, it makes me wonder.
Do you wonder what % of OWS comes from each income band? It seems like it's pertinent, and it seems (politically) like a weakness. From the shots on TV, it looks like middle-class people.
My impression is that it skews toward the young (20 somethings.) What's the prevalence of age groups?
How many would be for/against a number of issue stances -- since we know that they're an amorphous group, with one central message (against the enormous income inequality in the U.S.)
I think you could put together a really useful college course in this movement, both for the student and for the professor's academic publishing purposes. Send them out to get polling results, "anecdotal" interviews, etc. Get a portrait of this group. Watch it change over time.
If you see college as a place where you learn to sell widgets, nah it's a waste of college loan money. If it's a place where you do research and learn about researching (in this context,) then I think you can make a really good case for such a class.