The possible war with Iraq has brought many on-campus organizations, faculty, staff, administration and students together to debate the issue, and leading authorities have been invited to join in a panel discussion.
This forum, called a teach-in, strives to bring opposing sides of the debate together for education and discussion. The MultiCultural Center will host a teach-in on Oct. 29 from 5-7 p.m. concerning the war with Iraq, followed by a question and answer session. Invited guests leading the discussion include Richard Falk, a leading expert in the field of terrorism and international affairs, sociology Associate Professor Avery Gordon and President David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Falk will be a visiting professor in the Global Studies Dept. at UCSB later this year. Gordon is a co-host of KCSB FM’s “No Alibis,” and the editor of Mapping Multiculturalism. Krieger has spoken worldwide on peace, international law and nuclear weapons. He recently returned from a presentation before the European Parliament.
Teach-in participants will discuss the possible military action in Iraq, the background of the conflict and the consequences of U.S. actions. Discussion will focus on a recent bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives that allows President Bush to order a military strike on Iraq if it does not disarm. Iraq’s refusal to follow the United Nations’ orders and disarm raises issues in international law, the meaning of aggression and how the U.N. fits into the world politic, said Charles Bazerman, education professor and coordinator of the teach-in.
“Many people in our area are wary about going to war; they worry about jobs and security. Many do not see a clear reason as to why we are going to war,” religious studies Associate Professor Juan Campo said.
“This topic is so important because for a nation to go to war is of the greatest seriousness and will affect all citizens. Especially to be the first to attack, the aggressor is a serious matter,” Bazerman said. “UCSB is a place of intellectual leadership, and our voices can influence the way we pursue international order and prosperity. We hope that this teach-in will be followed by many others. The issues are still unfolding.”
The entire college community, including students, staff, faculty and administration, is encouraged to attend .
“Students should not unthinkingly accept Washington’s decisions,” Bazerman said. “The best way to influence the government is to make up your own minds.”
College Republicans chair Jeff Farrah said the panel does not represent all sides of the discussion about a possible war.
“We were never asked to participate in this event, which is typical of the faculty who don’t care about diversity of thought, only in spitting out rhetoric at students,” Farrah, said.
Concern over a possible war with Iraq prompted many organizations to come together; no one sought to ignore groups of opposite political views, Associated Students President Chrystine Lawson said.
“The peace movement formed out of random student organizations and concerned faculty, staff and administration who began to talk and coordinate how to address this on the campus,” she said. “It wasn’t designed to be exclusive. There was no exclusionary movement.”
Student organizations that helped plan the teach-in include Students for a Free Tibet, the Campus Labor Action Coalition, the Student Commission on Racial Equality, El Congreso, the Environmental Affairs Board, UC Nuclear Free, and others.
Teach-ins started during the Vietnam War as a way for students to understand, learn and discuss the war.
“The teach-in became an effective political tool that is now used on college campuses to discuss controversial topics,” Bazerman said.
Approximately 600 students attended the first teach-in, held on March 24, 1965 at the University of Michigan. Professors on the Michigan campus decided that simply canceling classes in protest of the war was not enough, so a weekend teach-in was designed to educate the students. Word spread around the country. By the day of the first teach-in, 35 other colleges, including UC Berkeley, were also planning teach-ins.
Lawson said this teach-in would be a way for students to learn from experts without having a quarter-long course devoted to the subject of war with Iraq.