As the anti-war movement increases in size and influence, student anti-war activists are forming regional and national organizations. These are significant and positive developments; millions of students who passively oppose Bush’s war on Iraq could be brought into organized action if a strong national student organization provided a lead.
A regional student anti-war conference and benefit concert was organized by Socialist Alternative and others in the Coalition Against War on Iraq at the University of Minnesota, was held February 8-9. 200 students traveled from across the Midwest to attend. Boots Riley of The Coup, an Oakland-based radical hip-hop group, gave the keynote address. On Saturday night, 1,800 fans packed a downtown Minneapolis club to hear The Coup, David Cross, and other performers in an anti-war benefit show.
Two weeks later, over 275 students representing over 100 schools met in Chicago to form the national Campus Anti-War Network (CAN). CAN decided to participate in the March 5 national day of action against the war. They also decided to endorse all actions on “Day X,” the school day after a full-scale attack on Iraq, for which Socialist Alternative is encouraging students to organize mass walk-outs. The regional conference in Minneapolis specifically endorsed walk-outs, rather than just general actions on Day X.
The four points of unity both conferences agreed on were proposed by members of Socialist Alternative, with small variations in the language: “No to War on Iraq by the US, UN, or Any Country,” “End the Sanctions on Iraq,” “Money for Education and Jobs, not War,” and “No to Racism and Attacks on our Civil Liberties.”
Both CAN and the Midwest regional conferences supported Socialist Alternative’s proposal to organize a national day of protest for “Money for Education and Jobs, not War” and against racism and attacks on civil liberties. That action proposes to link up with Jobs with Justice’s and United States Students Association’s annual day of student-labor solidarity on April 4th, the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. This national day of action provides students with a real opportunity to build the anti-war movement, and to link up with workers’ struggles against layoffs, cuts in education, and racism. Student activists should start organizing for the April 5th actions right away.
Justice #33, February 2003