Category: Student Protestors

National Student Strike on 400-plus campuses

Turnout exceeds organizers’ expectations as campuses activated

See the updated list of campuses at: www.nyspc.net/strikelist.html.

Students from San Diego to Maine participated in strikes, walkouts, and boycotts of class yesterday to resist the Bush Administration’s threatened war in Iraq and called for shifting prioities from exporting war abroad to increased domestic education funding.  

High schools and colleges students walked out at various planned times and converged at points either on campus or in central city-wide spots.  Many walkouts and rallies had large turnouts.  Students left school to demonstrate the immediate danger posed by the Bush administration’s unilateral, “pre-emptive strike” policy toward Iraq. Which will lessen U.S. security, endanger Iraqi civilians, erode U.S. international legitimacy, and divert spending from important domestic priorities such as education.  The event was called and coordinated by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC), an association of 15 national student and youth organizations.  

Organizers estimate that the list of participating campuses will top 400 once the counting is finished.  Organizers had expected between 200 and 300 campuses to participate.  As tallies came in on Wednesday evening, the list grew well past 300 and is still being tabulated.

Students are increasing the energy and tenacity of their protests as the Bush administration’s position becomes increasingly unrepresentative.  Students held sit–ins demanding that administrators make public statements against the war, and Wisconsin and Vermont students marched into their state capitol buildings and demanded to meet with the Governor to press the issue.  

“Our massive national strike, the growing peace movement, and the international efforts to curb US unilateral military action have been succesful and have given the world hope that we can stop this war before it starts,” said spokesperson Ben Waxman.

Despite the icy weather in much of the country, and threats of expulsion and suspension from high school administrators, turnouts at various student rallies were largely higher than expected:  New York City-1200 at Union Square and Hunter College, Philadelphia-700, Penn St.-1500 at walkout, Seattle Central Community College-1000 plus a “die-in,” Chicago DT rally-5,000, Los Angeles-40-50 schools with avg. participation rate at 15-20%, University of Arkansas-1000-1200 walkout, University of Michigan-2000 students boycottted class.

The call for a student strike was also taken up by students in Canada, Spain, Australia, the UK, France, Bulgaria, Greece, Switzerland, and elsewhere abroad.  Australia had the largest turnout with 10,000 students demonstrating in Sydney, and about 30,000 nationwide.

STUDENT GROUPS PLAN WALKOUT TO PROTEST WAR

Students at hundreds of high schools and colleges nationwide are planning a walkout on Wednesday to protest the Bush administration’s plans for war in Iraq.

The student strike is being coordinated by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, an organization of 15 student groups that came together after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The coalition, which calls the action “Books not Bombs,” has linked student protests against war in Iraq with a call for better-financed schools.

“We’re getting about 10 schools a day contacting us to participate, and it’s probably about 35-40 percent high schools,” said Andy Burns, an organizer who is signing up schools from his office in Little Rock, Ark.

Mr. Burns said he expected about 300 colleges and high schools to participate in the walkout.  Many of the students organizing next week’s action have portrayed the latest round of tuition increases at state colleges and universities as a “war tax” on the poor.

“We’re walking out of our classes because it’s completely ridiculous that students in Iraq, who are exactly the same as us, will have to face the consequences of a unilateral war,” said Amanda Flott, a University of Kansas student who is a spokeswoman for the coalition. “Also, at a time when many students are already priced out of higher education, the increase in funding for the military will decrease the money available for education, all to support a war that in my mind is not justifiable.”

From Chico State University in California to Castleton State College in Vermont, students are planning a variety of events for the walkout, including antiwar rallies and a mock election, with ballots to be sent to Congress on which protesters can cast votes against the war and for education.

The coalition said that student groups in Australia, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Brazil and Scotland were organizing strikes in solidarity with the American students.

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