Around 1,000 people gathered on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis to demand that the United States government fund "Books Not Bombs" in recognition of the March 5 International Student Strike that took place across the globe today.
Students from OSU, Corvallis High School, Crescent Valley High School, and other area schools took the chance to bring learning out of the classroom and into the Memorial Union Quad. Along with the open discussion tent, Corvallis student and community groups passed out information discussing the implications of a war with Iraq. Wrench, an OSU student and community group who spearheaded the organizing effort, provided informational fliers and enlisted the help of OSU faculty to present lectures and teach-ins all day on subjects such as "Is America an Empire", "Women and War", "Traditions of Non-Violence", and "Power of the Student Voice."
Leading up to and following the noon rally, students from all the schools participated in the Speak-Out Tent Discussion, Art for Peace and Justice, and voted in a mock election against the war.
The noon rally filled the Quad with a variety student voices and attracted people from all backgrounds: students, community, faculty, and passers-by. Members of Wrench Alicia Crain, Angus McBrian, Gabriella Helfgot, and Cody Donahue spoke on the educational and political aspects of a proposed war with Iraq, and OSU student group MEChA (sic) led a moment of silence for victims of war and violence around the world. OSU Barometer Columnist Sanjai Tripathy, founder of Corvallis' Dissenting Poets Lisa Taylor, and several others spoke.
Wrench called for the strike at OSU to show opposition to the invasion of Iraq and the thousands of civilian and military deaths that will result. As students and community members they said our futures will be shaped by the actions that the Bush administration takes today and it is our duty to question the priorities of our national government. The students striking demanded that more money be spent on funding vital education programs and not on the military. The 2004 federal budget proposes that 47% or $804 billion will be spent on military in contrast with only 34% or $593 billion spent on all of human resources which includes education, social security, and health services. Just one day of war in Iraq, approximately $1.1 billion, could prevent all proposed cuts to education programs like the ones we face here in Oregon.
Other activities during the day of protest included a Poetry Slam for Peace, a talk on "Pre-emptive War and Propaganda", and presentations on "The Health Costs of War" by Physicians for Social Responsibility, and nuclear weapons.
The day culminated with a gathering and walk down to join the community group Alternatives To War's daily Benton County Courthouse vigil at 5 p.m., and a showing of the award-winning film "Jenin, Jenin."
The strike was endorsed and organized by Wrench • Unheard Voices • ISOSU • Faculty for Peace and Justice • Unitarian Universalists • MEChA • Kalmekak • Women in Black • College Democrats • OSU Philosophy Club, PSAW • Muslim Womens' Student Organization • International Health Club • SEIU Local 49 • Linn-Benton Jobs With Justice • Oregon Peaceworks • Association of Latin American Students • OSU Society for Logic and Reason • Corvallis Vegetarian Resource Network
For more information on Wrench at Oregon State, visit the website at http://www.resist.ca/~mangus/wrench or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org
More strike information see: http://www.nyspc.net and your local media.