AUGUSTA – Occupy Augusta will be transplanted to the University of Maine at Augusta temporarily Thursday afternoon for a public forum.

The event, scheduled for noon on the campus green, will be an open discussion of the larger Occupy movement and its aims.

The university’s Office of Civic Engagement helped arrange the forum as a way to share information and ideas.

“This is an issue, obviously, that has strong opinions and strong feelings on all sides of it,” said Valerie Marsh, coordinator of civic engagement. “And I think that we at UMA really have an obligation to try to help facilitate a civil discussion.”

Sarah Therrien, 22, of Augusta, a student at the university, is part of Occupy Augusta. She said she hopes the discussion will engage more students, many of whom aren’t aware of the ongoing demonstration in Capitol Park.

“We are the leaders for the next generation,” she said. “We’re gong to be the next professionals. A lot of the issues we’re talking about down at the park really affect us. It’s really important that the next generation of workers have a voice.”

The forum will be open to anyone who wants to contribute to a civil discussion. It will be similar to the general assembly that Occupy groups are using, with a “stack” of speakers who will speak in turn, with no regard to position.

“Everyone who wants to participate will get on the stack, and then it’ll be an open discussion,” Therrien said. “Whatever comes out will come out.”

Marsh said her office is inviting officials and representatives of a variety of institutions and viewpoints, including the Legislature and the business community.

Rep. Maeghan Maloney, D-Augusta, whose district includes the university, plans to attend but doesn’t know if she will speak.

“I’ve been watching the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I’ve read the platform of the changes they want to see at the federal level,” Maloney said. “What I’m hoping to hear at the discussion is what they hope to have done at the state level.”

Maloney said she agrees with one complaint of the movement: that campaign donors have an outsize influence on public policy. She wants Maine’s Clean Election Act revamped; part of it was ruled unconstitutional earlier this year.

Occupy Augusta’s “points of unity” include assertions that corporations should not be treated as people, that government and financial systems are not serving the majority of people, and that appointed and elected officials must be held accountable.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Susan McMillan can be contacted at 621-5645 or at: [email protected]