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Campus officials target Socialist Club for opposing war
Stop the witch-hunt at NEIU

By Rachel Cohen and Chris Bloss | March 16, 2007 | Page 15

CHICAGO--Administrators at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) are targeting members of the NEIU Socialist Club following a protest of a recruitment event featuring the Central Intelligence Agency.

On February 28, a group of student antiwar activists assembled outside a small classroom to protest the presence of the CIA on campus. Campus Antiwar Network and NEIU Socialist Club members Matt Larson and Kenneth Barrios were arrested while attempting to walk into the forum.

Robin Wagner, a university employee who organized the event, claims to have been injured by Larson. Her charge of "assault" was immediately matched by a charge from Kelly against Barrios for "disruption."

NEIU police spent the next several hours both physically and verbally attacking the activists, before handing them over to Chicago police. Others present during the arrests say that no physical contact was made between Larson and Wagner, and that Barrios had not even made it inside the classroom before being hauled away in handcuffs.

Students lost no time in organizing a defense of those arrested. They contacted the student newspaper and began distributing a written statement of their first-hand account of events throughout the campus.

Over eight hours later, Larson and Barrios were released. But the attack on their right to free speech and protest had only begun.

A police report filed against them refers to the incident as a "Socialist Club" event, despite the fact only two of the seven participants at the protest were members of the NEIU Socialist Club. The NEIU administration is now waging a campaign to drive the Socialist Club out of existence.

An e-mail from the university president to NEIU students denounced so-called "violent" protest, and the student government--disproportionately composed of the student body's only self-proclaimed Republicans--has begun debating what bylaws it might use to revoke the club's charter, and is now insisting members of the club attend a "hearing" to determine what should "be done" about socialists on campus.

Meanwhile, an anonymous pamphlet has surfaced on the campus, chock-full of slander, titled, "The Socialist Club and its Lies: Working to Create Chaos at NEIU."

At the same time, vague allegations have been made privately by at least one campus official, saying that campus police have received complaints alleging that a member or members of the socialist club, and perhaps its faculty advisor, have engaged in "stalking" one or more right-wing students.

Such claims are scare-tactics that are without merit. In reality, the commitment that the Socialist Club has shown in fighting against war, and for quality education and equal rights, has not only made the club a political threat to NEIU administrators and their cronies, but has also won many allies on campus.

The campaign against socialists on campus has already been met with an outpouring of support--and the Socialist Club and its allies are planning a vigorous defense campaign.

Apologizing for war and oppression has led the administration and student government to face a growing tide of students, faculty and staff who stand on the side which wants money for schools, not war, and an end to racism--and which will not be intimidated into forfeiting their rights to think critically and speak out.

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