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News ::
Hampshire College Condemns War
06 Dec 2001
Modified: 11 Dec 2001
In all-community vote, the students, faculty, and staff of the college have voted to condemn the war on terrorism and propose alternative solutions.
December 5, 2001

Michael Sherrard
msherrard (at)
Kai Newkirk
rivendelldream (at)

Hampshire College Condemns War in All-Community Vote;
Believed to be the First School in the Nation to Do So

AMHERST, MA - The students, faculty, and staff of Hampshire College have
voted to condemn the "War on Terrorism" and propose alternative solutions.
The vote, which was won by a margin of 693-121 (with 11 abstaining or
ambiguous votes), is believed to the first such decision by a college
community in the United States. (A majority of the students, faculty, and
staff participated in the vote.)

"Our community has spoken," said Michael Sherrard, an organizer with
Hampshire Students for a Peaceful Response, which sponsored the vote and
authored the anti-war resolution. "We refuse to fall into silent support for
an unjust war that kills innocents overseas, and threatens our safety and
civil liberties at home."

However, organizers were quick to defend the right to free expression of
those who disagreed with the vote.

"As a diverse community of strong individuals, there are some at Hampshire
who do not support our views. Even if they are in the minority, their
opinions, and rights to free expression, must be respected. We wish that
politicians and the media would extend the same respect to those of us who
oppose this unjust war, or who happen to bear the same skin tone as Osama
bin Laden," said Donald Jackson, also a member of Students for a Peaceful

Hampshire has a precedent for trend-setting political statements. In the
early 70s, students voted for the impeachment of President Nixon. The
college was also the first to decide to divest from apartheid South Africa.
With this vote, organizers hope to make a similarly strong public statement,
and build a movement which can similarly change the course of U.S. foreign

Students for a Peaceful Response is a multi-campus coalition in Western
Massachusetts formed in the wake of September 11, and active in the growing
nation-wide student movement against the war. It is organized around six
points of unity: mourning for the victims of the September 11 tragedies; a
call for the peaceful pursuit of justice, rather than war and militarism;
condemnation of religious, racial, and ethnic scapegoating and bigotry;
opposition to the curtailment of civil liberties; desire to provoke
discussion of the root causes of terrorism; and recognition of global
justice as the condition for a true and lasting peace.

Full text of the statement approved by the community:

The tragic day of September 11, and the days following, have been a time of
profound suffering for people everywhere: firefighters in New York,
secretaries in Washington D.C., and farmers in Afghanistan. One
indiscriminate act of violence has been followed by another, a pattern
seriously endangering the prospects for a just and peaceful world. In such a
time of loss, we must ask ourselves - is there a path out of this escalating
cycle of violence? Yes, we can respond to the tragedy of September 11 as a
crime against humanity, carried out by individuals, not as an act of warfare
for which a nation must be held responsible. This path would proceed within
a framework of genuine international cooperation and be designed to bring to
justice those guilty of the crime - without destroying the lives of innocent
millions. It would employ the proven tools of transparent and conclusive
investigations, diplomatic and police efforts, and fair courts of law to
achieve its goal. At home, we can meet the immediate need for effective
security through common-sense solutions that apply fairly to everyone, while
preserving our hard-won civil liberties.

Instead, the Bush administration has embarked upon a very different path -
with disastrous consequences:

- The death toll of innocent Afghan civilians killed by inevitably imprecise
bombing is mounting.

- The U.S. military campaign has made it impossible for international relief
organizations to deliver the food aid necessary to prevent the starvation of
millions of Afghan civilians in the winter now beginning. The token and
scattered aid efforts of the United States have been roundly criticized as
insufficient, or even counterproductive, by such organizations. A massive
humanitarian crisis remains.

- While the Northern Alliance has forced the Taliban from power (certainly a
welcome development), they too possess a disturbing record of human-rights
violations, especially against women and political dissidents.

- The current suffering in Afghanistan will only deepen the conditions of
loss and desperation which foster international terrorism. Even the CIA has
stated that strikes against Afghanistan are "100% certain" to lead to
terrorist reprisals.

- The recent "U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T." Act infringes upon everyone's First and
Fourth Amendment freedoms. Rights to privacy, speech, and association remain
as critical as ever and are, if anything, more so in times of trial.

- The proposed "economic stimulus" package provides billions of dollars in
corporate giveaways and tax breaks, but almost nothing for laid-off workers
and poor communities most at risk.

- Both at home and abroad, the "War on Terrorism" is symptomatic of the
racism of American society, in its disregard for the lives of people of
color overseas, encouragement of racial, ethnic, and religious scapegoating
and violence, and practice of law enforcement "profiling."

-New legislative and law enforcement initiatives threaten specifically the
rights of non-citizens, through indefinite detentions without indictment,
military tribunals, arbitrary deportation, and unfair targeting of
international students.

For all of these reasons, and many more, we, the students, faculty, and
staff of Hampshire College, have no choice but to condemn the current "War
on Terrorism," and demand that it not be expanded to Iraq or any other
countries. We call for the resumption of effective independent humanitarian
aid in Afghanistan, and the immediate halt to the U.S. military action that
prevents it. We call for a U.N.-led effort to establish in Afghanistan a
democratic and multi-ethnic government, respectful of the rights of women.
Furthermore, we demand that the Hampshire administration join us in
resisting any arbitrary and unfair law-enforcement invasion of our own
community, especially efforts targeting international students and campus

Finally, military action will never put an end to international terrorism,
which often stems from forces that have previously received the support of
the American government. In its place, we must, in the words of Martin
Luther King, Jr., "rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter - but
beautiful - struggle for a new world," a world where hunger, war, and
economic injustice, the root causes of terrorism, are eliminated. This way
alone leads to safety, security, and lasting peace. Thus, we commit the full
resources and energies of our community to this endeavor, and challenge our
colleagues at schools around the country, and all over the world, to do the
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07 Dec 2001
If anyone had ever heard of Hampshire College before this, it'd be a surprise to me.

Are you sure it's a school?
Hopefully this will set an example.
07 Dec 2001
Similar efforts are encountering reluctance at “progressive” schools; this does not reflect favorably on the notion of academic freedom.

The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA), which passed a faculty resolution condemning the Gulf War, has been reluctant to issue a public statement condemning the slaughter in Afghanistan and the war on immigrants and civil liberties in the U.S. This is alarming, considering the fact that Evergreen is constantly under attack for its excess of “liberalism,” its student activists, and its employment of “Marxist,” “Commie,” or “Stalinist-bagmen” professors.

The significance of this action at Hampshire College should not be underestimated, when even the most liberal academic climates are suppressing dissent.
Results Disputed
09 Dec 2001
There is a large segment of the Hampshire College community that has called the legitimacy of the Vote into question. The Vote was done in a door-to-door "canvassing" fashion as well as at tables in heavy traffic areas with no sort of privacy booth, and it was entirely carried out by (including counting the results) the same party (SPR) that wrote the statement. If you are at all interested, please look online at the campus message board
Look under either "All-Community Vote Passes" or "SPR Responds to Greg" and read the "comments"

The basic bone of contention is the way the "vote" was carried out (by the same party that wrote the statement and made the press release). There was not one impartial body involved in the entire process.
See also:
Antiwar feeling is gaining
10 Dec 2001
This is a victory for the peace movement. Even where I work (railroad) people are questioning this imperialist war drive and are more and more worried about the attacks on innocent people and civil liberties.
I was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and it tooks years to get to the size ofthe demos I have seen within weeks of the start of this war.
We Will Win!!
See also:
I can assure you that Hampshire is a school..
11 Dec 2001
It's actually quite an important's got a very good reputation through Massachusetts (even if it WAS counted as something of a "hippie school."

I can actually give a definate note that it's a school seeing as I applied there for admission, have a few friends going there, and a few more in the "Five Campus" range in Central Mass (Smith, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, one UMass campus...and one I'm forgetting...)

See for their website.