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University of Illinois “Old” Alums Return for a Conference on the 1960s Protest Movement

A Saturday morning panel at conference on ’60s activism at UIUC

About 50 literally “old” University of Illinois alums returned to campus from around the country (and in one case, from Switzerland) to attend an October 4-5 conference about the 1960s UI student protest movements for free speech and against the Vietnam War. The conference was held in conjunction with the UI Press’s publication of a book by ’60s alum Michael Metz, entitled Radicals in the Heartland: The 1960s Protest Movement at the University of Illinois. The UI Press and the Library Archives Team organized the conference. Continue reading

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This is going to take more than windmills: Addressing Trauma at the UN Climate Summit

Climate activists from around the world converged on New York City during the United Nations Climate Summit in September, 2019, and I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to this historic moment. There were scientists, lawyers, architects and diplomats—and of course Greta Thunberg (the Swedish teen who chastised the UN for its feeble track record on addressing the climate crisis)—but there were also artists, musicians and counselors in attendance. Yes, that’s right: counselors. Because if humans are going to survive the disruptions of the climate crisis, we are going to need to radically rethink how we relate to our planet and each other. Continue reading

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University and High School Students Collaborate to Host September 20th Climate Strike

Student climate strike at UIUC, September 20, 2019

Between September 20 and 27, over 6000 protests took place in 185 countries as part of the Global Week for Future. Students walked out of classes, workers went on strike, and millions gathered to demand climate justice and take action against corporate greed and negligence. These strikes, which were part of Greta Thunberg’s historic Fridays for Future campaign, shared the common goal of raising awareness about the dangers of fossil fuels. According to the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists agree that it is still possible to avoid climate catastrophe if we can dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2030. This reduction is only possible if we increase the share of renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, solar, and wind), while keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Continue reading

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Homewrecker: Trump, the Kurds, and the Grand Strategy We Have Been Waiting For

Kurdish refugees fled ISIS in the past, and now flee the Turkish invasion

Donald Trump’s October decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria took his own advisors by surprise, not to mention the Kurdish military units that were U.S. partners in the war on ISIS during the past five years. Perhaps the only unsurprised party was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who moved quickly to eliminate the Kurdish forces across his southern border. Within days Turkish bombardment began and thousands of Kurds were fleeing south.

Trump’s policy reversal was rightly condemned as a betrayal of the Kurds, but the episode is merely one piece of a larger shift that is moving like a wrecking ball through U.S. policy circles. The trend predates Trump, but his style is accelerating the dismantling of the only platforms we have for confronting the challenges the planet faces. The reversal in Syria is a good place to start in examining the Trump effect on U.S. foreign policy and on the planet. Continue reading

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Students for Justice in Palestine Triumphs in Illinois Student Government Vote

On October 23, student organizers and members of Illinois Student Government (ISG) were elated to hear that a resolution demanding an apology from University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones had been passed by a vote of 29-4. The resolution criticized Chancellor Jones’s Massmail, which conflated criticizing Israel with anti-Semitism. In his Massmail, Jones relegates a swastika incident to a footnote, but dedicates paragraphs to the “anti-Semitic content” of a Multicultural Advocate’s student presentation on Palestine. Jones later admitted in an in-person meeting that this opinion was based on the interpretation by one student. ISG members also voted to send out their own Massmail (ISG is allotted three Massmails). The Massmail would be a factual response to the Chancellor’s email. The ISG victory came at a time when Palestinian students were being harrassed online by means of death threats and Islamophobic slurs.

Chancellor Jones’s email also included a list of his steps to ensure a safe campus, including training for housing personnel and reviews of housing policy and paraprofessionals hired. Despite this detailed agenda, there was no discussion of investigating the swastika found on campus, nor have there been any further statements on the swastikas that have appeared since. Continue reading

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