Hamilton College Teach-In, November 1


This story appeared in the November 10 issue of the Hamilton College student newspaper, The Spectator


Hamilton hosted a teach-in on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this Sunday. The event, titled “Resisting War in a Post 9/11 Era: Activism and Mobilization,” was composed of discussions from Hamilton professors and others about current issues relating to war, terrorism and politics.

“We organized the teach-in to initiate a dialogue on the Hamilton Campus about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said [Anne] Lacsamana.

Lacsamana, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, organized the event with Scholar-In-Residence and Interim Access Project Director Joyce Barry.

“We chose a ‘teach-in’ because it is a quick, effective manner to convey information about a particular topic,” Lacsamana shared.  “Our teach-in was not unique--similar events have been happening around the country with regards to the war in Iraq.  For example, the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition has been organizing a ‘Books Not Bombs’ campaign over the past month to mobilize and educate people about the importance of funding for education.”

A teach-in, as defined by the event’s publicity, is “an informal crash course in a current or complicated political issue, making up for gaps or bias in the media coverage or one’s education.”

Although the teach-in, which took place in the Events Barn, was sparsely attended throughout the day, Lacsamana called it a success.

“As a colleague recently told us, everything you do is important--the very fact that a teach-in was held on the Hamilton Campus is an important first step to furthering dialogue concerning issues of peace and social justice.”

Professor of Classics Barbara Gold agreed.

“I do think it was effective. There was a steady flow of people all day long…they were very attentive,” she said. “One thing I’ve learned is that no [political] act is ever wasted, even if it only reaches one person.”

Gold spoke at the event, giving a talk entitled “War is Not the Answer: What’s True and What Isn’t.”

“I believe in educating students both in and outside the classroom,” she said. “[A teach-in] is the combination of the intellectual and the engaged.”

Other speakers included Professors Isserman, Cafruny, Orlin, Werner, Adair and Garrett and College Chaplain Jeff McArn.

McArn, who spoke on the topics of freedom and humility, addressed the reasons he participated.

“It’s on my mind,” he said. “It’s valuable to think about what’s going on and what your response to it is.”

One recurrent observation and topic of conversation was the lack of a large student presence at the event and in the general anti-war movement. Many students and speakers made negative comparisons to Vietnam-era protests.

“If you don’t know anyone who’s serving, or dying, it’s hard to have a personal connection,” McArn offered as an explanation for the disparity.

Many participants shared a similar sentiment, attributing the difference between the responses to the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq to, among other things, the lack of a draft.

“There isn’t an immediate feel to [the war],” added McArn.

 “I guess I was expecting something larger…It’s a pity more students aren’t attuned to this issue, which is really important to our future in terms of the national debt and our reputation in the world,” said Kye Lippold ’10, who attended about half of the event.

 “[But] I think it’s inspired some like-minded people to get more active,” said Lippold ’10. “I’ve already talked with some people about making the issues more visible.”