- AMHERST, MA - The students,
faculty, and staff of Hampshire College have voted to condemn the "War
on Terrorism" and propose alternative solutions. The vote, which was
won by a margin of 693-121 (with 11 abstaining or ambiguous votes), is
believed to the first such decision by a college community in the United
States. (A majority of the students, faculty, and staff participated in
- "Our community has spoken," said Michael
an organizer with Hampshire Students for a Peaceful Response, which
the vote and authored the anti-war resolution. "We refuse to fall
into silent support for an unjust war that kills innocents overseas, and
threatens our safety and civil liberties at home."
- However, organizers were quick to defend the right to
free expression of those who disagreed with the vote.
- "As a diverse community of strong individuals, there
are some at Hampshire who do not support our views. Even if they are in
the minority, their opinions, and rights to free expression, must be
We wish that politicians and the media would extend the same respect to
those of us who oppose this unjust war, or who happen to bear the same
skin tone as Osama bin Laden," said Donald Jackson, also a member
of Students for a Peaceful Response.
- Hampshire has a precedent for trend-setting political
statements. In the early 70s, students voted for the impeachment of
Nixon. The college was also the first to decide to divest from apartheid
South Africa. With this vote, organizers hope to make a similarly strong
public statement, and build a movement which can similarly change the
of U.S. foreign policy.
- Students for a Peaceful Response is a multi-campus
in Western Massachusetts formed in the wake of September 11, and active
in the growing nation-wide student movement against the war. It is
around six points of unity: mourning for the victims of the September 11
tragedies; a call for the peaceful pursuit of justice, rather than war
and militarism; condemnation of religious, racial, and ethnic scapegoating
and bigotry; opposition to the curtailment of civil liberties; desire to
provoke discussion of the root causes of terrorism; and recognition of
global justice as the condition for a true and lasting peace.
- Full text of the statement approved by the
- The tragic day of September 11, and the days following,
have been a time of profound suffering for people everywhere: firefighters
in New York, secretaries in Washington D.C., and farmers in Afghanistan.
One indiscriminate act of violence has been followed by another, a pattern
seriously endangering the prospects for a just and peaceful world. In such
a time of loss, we must ask ourselves - is there a path out of this
cycle of violence? Yes, we can respond to the tragedy of September 11 as
a crime against humanity, carried out by individuals, not as an act of
warfare for which a nation must be held responsible. This path would
within a framework of genuine international cooperation and be designed
to bring to justice those guilty of the crime - without destroying the
lives of innocent millions. It would employ the proven tools of transparent
and conclusive investigations, diplomatic and police efforts, and fair
courts of law to achieve its goal. At home, we can meet the immediate need
for effective security through common-sense solutions that apply fairly
to everyone, while preserving our hard-won civil liberties.
- Instead, the Bush administration has embarked upon a
very different path - with disastrous consequences:
- * The death toll of innocent Afghan civilians killed
by inevitably imprecise bombing is mounting.
- * The U.S. military campaign has made it impossible for
international relief organizations to deliver the food aid necessary to
prevent the starvation of millions of Afghan civilians in the winter now
beginning. The token and scattered aid efforts of the United States have
been roundly criticized as insufficient, or even counterproductive, by
such organizations. A massive humanitarian crisis remains.
- * While the Northern Alliance has forced the Taliban
from power (certainly a welcome development), they too possess a disturbing
record of human-rights violations, especially against women and political
- * The current suffering in Afghanistan will only deepen
the conditions of loss and desperation which foster international
Even the CIA has stated that strikes against Afghanistan are "100%
certain" to lead to terrorist reprisals.
- * The recent "U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T." Act
upon everyone's First and Fourth Amendment freedoms. Rights to privacy,
speech, and association remain as critical as ever and are, if anything,
more so in times of trial.
- * The proposed "economic stimulus" package
provides billions of dollars in corporate giveaways and tax breaks, but
almost nothing for laid-off workers and poor communities most at
- * Both at home and abroad, the "War on
is symptomatic of the racism of American society, in its disregard for
the lives of people of color overseas, encouragement of racial, ethnic,
and religious scapegoating and violence, and practice of law enforcement
- * New legislative and law enforcement initiatives
specifically the rights of non-citizens, through indefinite detentions
without indictment, military tribunals, arbitrary deportation, and unfair
targeting of international students.
- For all of these reasons, and many more, we, the
faculty, and staff of Hampshire College, have no choice but to condemn
the current "War on Terrorism," and demand that it not be
to Iraq or any other countries. We call for the resumption of effective
independent humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, and the immediate halt to
the U.S. military action that prevents it. We call for a U.N.-led effort
to establish in Afghanistan a democratic and multi-ethnic government,
of the rights of women. Furthermore, we demand that the Hampshire
join us in resisting any arbitrary and unfair law-enforcement invasion
of our own community, especially efforts targeting international students
and campus activists.
- Finally, military action will never put an end to
terrorism, which often stems from forces that have previously received
the support of the American government. In its place, we must, in the words
of Martin Luther King, Jr., "rededicate ourselves to the long and
bitter - but beautiful - struggle for a new world," a world where
hunger, war, and economic injustice, the root causes of terrorism, are
eliminated. This way alone leads to safety, security, and lasting peace.
Thus, we commit the full resources and energies of our community to this
endeavor, and challenge our colleagues at schools around the country, and
all over the world, to do the same.
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