January 29, 2003

Anti-War Coalition Begins Campaign

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The Cornell Anti-War Coalition held its first meeting of the semester yesterday in the Kaufmann Auditorium of Goldwin Smith Hall to organize events protesting the impending U.S. war on Iraq.

The Coalition, formed early last semester by approximately 25 students and faculty members concerned about the Bush administration’s plans to launch an attack on Iraq, has since grown to nearly 150 members.

Amy Levine grad began the Coalition’s meeting by introducing the reasons for the Coalition’s existence. However, since most of the attendees were already familiar with the organization’s purpose, the meeting’s organizers soon moved on to planning upcoming events, stressing the urgent need for action.

“Last semester, we focused on education because we wanted to show people the problems with this war. We plan to continue that, but more and more people are agreeing with us and they need to be mobilized,” Levine explained.

After hosting a teach-in and several rallies and marches on the Cornell campus and in Ithaca, the group is planning to increase its direct actions.

Various plans were discussed, including a rally today on Ho Plaza in response to the agenda for war against Iraq presented by President Bush in his State of the Union Address.

The focus of the group’s efforts in the coming month will be a “Week Against War,” a statewide event culminating in the group’s attendance at a national rally and march against the war on Feb. 15 in Manhattan.

The Week Against War was organized by Anke Wessels, director of the Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy (CRESP) at Cornell and Dana Brown, director of Cornell’s Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR). New York Campus Communities for Justice and Peace, Wessels’ and Brown’s network of campus groups from colleges and high schools around the state, will be participating in the event.

“We’re establishing a network of campus groups that are all united in this one particular mission. It’s important to know that we’re part of a larger context,” Wessels said.

“I have been contacted by 40 campus groups, 27 of which said they will definitely be doing something that week,” she added.

Before the participants broke up into planning discussion groups, Nathaniel Doyno ’05 explained an idea for the group to collaborate with students from State University of New York (SUNY)-Buffalo on a joint “State of the Union” event designed to present students’ perceptions of how the imminent war would effect students who could potentially be drafted.

“Minorities are largely disproportionately drafted into the armed forces,” Doyno said. “[A potential war] clearly attacks both Arab-American and Muslim populations as well as poor people. This anti-war movement says: what really embodies economic and community growth is common needs, common goals,” he added.

Doyno also talked about plans to organize an umbrella organization encompassing all the progressive groups on campus. The purpose of such an organization, he said, would be to improve inter-group communication. The organization’s immediate goal is the creation of a web site which will contain a regularly updated calendar as well as links to all member groups’ web sites.

Later in the Coalition meeting, participants split up into groups to provide input into more detailed plans. One such group discussed ways to spread intellectual discourse about war; ideas included residence hall programs, anti-war resolutions to be proposed in both the Faculty Senate and Student Assembly, and a day when all professors across campus could foster a brief discussion of the issue in their classes.

“I can see as many applications in chemistry and biology as in government and economics,” said Prof. Bill Trochim, Policy Analysis and Management.

“If we can do that around the topic of Frankenstein, why can’t we do it about this? Let’s get people thinking and talking,” he added.

Archived article by Aliza Wasserman