UI Campus Antiwar Network Hosts Conference

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ON FEBRUARY 27 AND 28, the University of Illinois chapter of the
Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) will be hosting the first
national conference for the organization since it’s October 2008
Conference in Chicago. The Campus Antiwar Network is a collection
of local chapters with one overarching aim: to immediately
end the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition,
many local chapters work to combat Israeli apartheid in the
Occupied Territories, and more than a few CAN alum and current
members have been spotted among the International Solidarity
Movement’s team in the West Bank.
The champaig-Urbana chapter of the Campus Antiwar
Network has been around since December 2006, and
quickly grew from a small, disorganized group of people to
become one of the better known campus activist organizations.
CAN has staged rallies on campus, and has coordinated
with other student groups to help their own causes,
such as the furtherance of the DREAM Act with immigrants
rights group La Collectiva, and an end to torture and state
oppression with the local Amnesty International chapter—
and that was just last semester. CAN has also brought a
number of students and community members to Washington
DC for annual protests against the war, and our local
chapter did the Left proud in the Twin Cities during the
Republican National Convention in 2008.
However, CAN as a national organization has seen its
ups and downs since the last conference. It has a strong and
vociferous presence in both the permitted and the direct
action protests at the Republican National Convention. A
member of the C-U chapter spoke on behalf of the organization
at the March 19th 2009 protest in Washington DC,
hosted by the ANSWER coalition. However, following that
protest and the end of the school year, a number of important
leaders in the national body of CAN graduated from
school or became less involved in the organization, leading
to a fracturing of the group.
However, a number of important chapters—especially
Cincinnati, Hunter College, and the University of Illinois—
remained strong voices of opposition to both the continued
occupation of Iraq and the surge in Afghanistan, and have
taken the forefront now in rebuilding the student antiwar
movement on campuses nationwide.
CAN was able to attract a number of big names in the antiwar
movement to speak at this upcoming conference. Headlining
it is Professor Michael Schwartz, a sociologist from Stony
Brook in New York, who wrote the 2008, War Without End:
The Iraq War in Context, as well as numerous articles decrying
the continued invasion and contextualizing the continued US
interest in the Middle East and South Asia. Laura Slaterly will
also be speaking, a veteran who has since worked tirelessly on
behalf of numerous antiwar groups, as well as with the group
Pace e Bene, in its efforts to close down the School of the Americas.
Rounding out an amazing triad of antiwar voices is
Katherine Fuchs, the national organizer for the US Campaign
to End Israeli Occupation.
In addition to these three great speakers, there will be a
number of workshops, discussions, and panels with a variety
of foci: how to build and grow CAN chapters and other
activist organizations; historical workshops contextualizing
the Iraq occupation, the Af-Pak conflict, and the occupation
of Palestine; a panel of veterans from both Vietnam and the
current wars who became—either while serving and after
their enlistment ended—staunch antiwar activists; and a
discussion of successful divestment campaigns and campaigns
against ever-shrinking university budgets.
The entire community is invited out to these workshops,
which will be happening all day Saturday in Gregory
Hall on the Main Quad of the U of I. For further information,
email us at can.uiuc@gmail.com

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