NEW YORK – Under the slogan “Books not bombs,” thousands of students at hundreds of campuses across the country are planning a one-day strike on March 5 to demand better funding for public education and an end to the Bush administration’s drive for war in Iraq. The strike is shaping up to be the biggest student action since the Vietnam War.
“We just can’t sit in our classes while our government is doing something that’s going to affect the world for decades to come,” Amanda Crater, a spokesperson for the coalition organizing the strike, the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC), told the World. “Every dollar spent on the [war] is a dollar that could have been spent for the schools. I mean, where else is that money coming from? Meanwhile, tuition is going up, fees are getting higher, and schools are getting crunched.”
Students will demand that the Bush administration end its drive for military actions in Iraq, fund education, and re-allocate military funds to eliminating poverty. Local issues such as demanding campus administrators declare opposition to the war, disclose and eliminate military research contracts, freeze or lower tuition, and transfer money for JROTC programs to college preparation and counseling are also part of the strike.
“The biggest question that I have is, for my security is it worth spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a war on Iraq? Or is it better to take that money and invest it in education so that I can go to college?” said Ben Waxman, a high school senior and member of the American Friends Service Committee. “The Bush administration wants to sell to me that somehow the people of Iraq are some kind of threat to me while in reality the biggest threat to my future is my inability to be able to pay for college.”
“Students are responding to the strike because we see this not just as an international issue, but as a domestic issue. At the same time they have hundreds of billions of dollars to invade and occupy Iraq, school budgets are being cut in public schools, tuition is being increased,” said Adanjesus Marin, national co-coordinator of the Young Communist League USA, a member organization of the coalition calling the strike. “The money that they would spend on the war should instead go to fully fund our education.”
In addition to the strike, students will hold mock elections. “We will participate in a national anti-war mock election in which we show our electoral power against the war, and also our willingness to vote if candidates address our issues,” said Erica Smiley, the president of the Black Radical Congress youth division, another NYSPC member organization. “We’ll be sending the ballots to Congress.”
The NYSPC is composed of various youth and students organizations, including the United States Students Association, Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada, Campus Greens, United Students Against Sweatshops, Student Peace Action Network and Young Democratic Socialists. For more information visit www.nyspc.net.
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