National student antiwar conference
By Peter Lamphere | March 1, 2002 | Page 11
NEW YORK–More than 200 students from more than 40 campuses gathered this past weekend at Columbia University under the slogan “They want a war without end, we want a world without wars.”
The conference drew together activists from across the country to discuss the political issues connected to building an antiwar movement and the nuts and bolts of organizing, while also hammering out common strategies and points of unity. Students were brought together by the shared horror at the human cost of the war in Afghanistan.
Rita Lazar, who lost a brother in the September 11 attacks and has become a peace activist, traveled to Afghanistan. “I saw war, but not as an abstraction,” said Lazar. “I saw orphanages full of children who had no food, without heat or light. I saw families who have lost five or six children to the bombings.”
Workshops at the conference ranged from the lessons of the Vietnam antiwar movement to strategies for campus organizing to dealing with the media.
“We have to build the movement by connecting the war abroad and the war at home in a way that addresses people’s real, lived experiences,” said Michael Letwin, co-convenor of New York City Labor Against the War, who addressed the conference on Saturday night.
Students agreed to points of unity focusing on a rejection of war, racism and attacks on civil liberties–and called for money to be spent on education and jobs at home rather than bombs abroad.
A national network of campuses was formed to help coordinate action in the coming months and to build for the April 20 demonstration against the IMF and World Bank in Washington, D.C.