An Open Letter to Columbia College Faculty, Staff, and Administration

A war against Iraq is projected within the next few weeks.  This will be, in the view of many of us, a thoroughly unjust war involving multiple crimes against humanity.  But no matter what your point of view, this projected war is a momentous issue nationally and internationally. In this unprecedented situation, what should we, as educators, be doing?

I would like to propose that Columbia make March 5 a college-wide day of teaching and learning about the projected war against Iraq.  Faculty should be urged and encouraged to devote their classes to discussion of this topic, or to bring their classes to the teach-in (see below).  Other activities could be fostered as well ? films, readings, music, etc. ? all kinds of cultural expression which might call upon the creative abilities of Columbiaís students and faculty in response to this situation.

Wednesday March 5 has been called, by a network of antiwar and peace groups, as a national day of moratorium to stop the war on Iraq before it starts.  Among other things, several groups have been calling for a student strike on that day.  Two student groups at Columbia, Not In Our Name and On the Ground, although not planning a strike, are discussing guerrilla theatre and other sorts of actions, as well as planning an all-day teach-in/speak-out/discussion at the Columbia Residence Center on Plymouth Court.

In the situation the world faces now, for us at Columbia to devote a day to focus on discussion of this war seems the minimal responsibility we have to our students and ourselves. Whatever else we may do, letís make this happen!

I am attempting to get endorsements of this proposal from P-fac, CCFO, Deans, the Provost and other officers of the college, department chairs, and others.  If you can put in a good word along any of those avenues or others, please do.

And in general, please forward this to all you feel should see it, and feel free to reply to me with any comments or suggestions.

Thanks -

John Stevenson
Part-Time Instructor, Dept. of Liberal Education
President, P-fac (Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia, IEA/NEA)
Last revised on February 25, 2003 by the Webmaster.