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News and reports

February 20, 2004 | Page 11

Defend affirmative action
By Jonah Birch

NEW YORK--More than 65 people attended a speak-out at Columbia University February 9 called in response to an "anti-affirmative action bake sale" held by the Columbia College Conservative Club the week before. The bake sale, in which the Conservative Club charged women, African Americans and Latinos lower prices for the cookies and brownies they were selling than white males, trivialized the reality of racism and sexism in our society and was an explicit attack on the use of affirmative action in college admissions programs.

Dozens of students confronted the Conservative Club at their bake sale. Outrage grew when it was discovered that the club had circulate an online petition against affirmative action in which it cited Martin Luther King. Several signers included violently racist comments along--and one gave a link to the website of the neo-Nazi National Alliance--and another wrote that "the only good minority is a dead minority."

Columbia, an elite university that resides in the predominantly Black and Latino neighborhood of Harlem, has a long history of racism. Even now, the administration plans a new 17-acre campus in West Harlem, which would displace large numbers of residents.

A day after the rally, Columbia President Lee Bollinger, who defended affirmative action programs before the Supreme Court last year, blew off a meeting he had scheduled with the Black Students Organization to discuss the racist bake sale.

The Conservative Club's attacks on affirmative action are not isolated, but are part of a broader right-wing offensive at Columbia. For example, military officers are currently attempting to bring back the ROTC, which was kicked off campus by student protests in 1968. We need to defend affirmative action--and make sure that right-wingers like the Conservative Club are challenged whenever they open their mouths to spew such racist filth.

No to war and occupation
By Keith Rosenthal

BURLINGTON, Vt.--Close to 75 people marched downtown February 15, despite temperatures well below zero, to protest the ongoing U.S. occupation of Iraq. Chanting "Job cuts, health cuts, we know why . . . $87 billion to occupy!" demonstrators spoke about the need to rebuild a movement to bring the troops home from Iraq.

The Burlington Anti-War Coalition (BAWC) and Pax Christi organized the march and also are planning teach-ins and local marches to help build the anti-occupation protest in New York City, which is part of the March 20 international day of action. This will be the first time since February 15 of last year that the whole world will march to show that it is still opposed to the war on Iraq.

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