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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Report from the Anti-War Front

On Febuary 22 – 24, delegations from 40 schools across the country met at Columbia University in New York City for the National Student Anti-War Conference. The aim of the conference was to build a network of campus coalitions organizing opposition against the “war against terrorism.” Bryan Koulouris and Patrick Ayers of the UMB Socialist Club attended as representatives of the UMB Coalition Against War and Racism.

Over the course of the weekend, delegates and observers attended educational workshops, panel discussions, and debated strategies for building the anti-war movement. Though the conference only represented a small layer of the movement, and the number of participants equaled less than a quarter of the participants in many of the regional anti-war conferences held this past December, most delegates and observers came away with feelings of accomplishment.

On Saturday, in the decision making meeting on “points of unity,” Ayers and Koulouris pushed for a point of unity around the call for “funding of education and jobs – not war,” in light of the recent budget cuts, fee hikes and layoffs at UMass. This point was accepted as a friendly amendment by People for Peace, the Columbia University coalition that made the original proposal for three points of unity including: “We oppose this war,” “We call for an end to racism, especially racial profiling and ethnic scapegoating,” and “We call for the protection of civil liberties and the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act.”

On Sunday, after a long contentious debate, the delegates voted for a national structure. The delegates had to debate through seven different proposals on structures before a majority of the delegates could vote for one they saw as acceptable. The UMB delegates motioned to amend the structure proposal to include taking political diversity as well as regional diversity into account when electing a national leadership. To them this meant, concretely, that “All on-campus organizations building on campus opposition to the war should have representation whether they be a student group, faculty group or political group.”

According to Koulouris, after the regional student anti-war conferences last December many student anti-war groups split from the student conference movement because of a feeling that political “party members” were hiding behind coalitions and not being open about their affiliation. The UMB delegates hoped this proposed amendment would build bridges with these groups by allowing political parties to identify themselves and caucus openly within the regional and national structures. However, the UMB delegates failed to convince the other delegates that this would be “democratic,” and the amendment overwhelmingly failed.

The UMB delegates also distributed a proposal to call for the forming of an “independent political party” that would “challenge the agenda of big business” by “[building] links with the working class, youth, labor unions, immigrants, people of color, women, and the LGBT communities [who are all] facing budget cuts in social services.”

However, the debate on structures took up much more time than was expected and there was not enough time for the UMB delegates to formally present their proposal to the conference.

One of the priorities of the conference, before it ended, was to discuss future coordinated actions. Though there was not enough time to discuss all the proposed actions the conference at least had time to endorse a march on Washington, DC. The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition is organizing the march for April 20 later this spring and had already collected over 80 endorsements before the national student conference.

The UMB Socialist Club and the Coalition Against War and Racism plans on mobilizing UMass Boston students to this protest. If you are interested in going or helping mobilize students to this protest you can contact the Socialist Club at [email protected].