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Why did ISO hijack Berkley CA Schools Conference?
by Carmenita
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 3:18 PM
Why did the ISO lie to us all and bring us up here this weekend, only to push and build and ISO coalition. if I wanted to be in the ISO i would have joined the organiziation.
ey Conference Hijacked by the ISO

This weekend I attended the CSAW (California Schools Against War) Conference held in Berkley. I go to school in Santa Barbara. I came to this meeting thinking that I was going to work with other schools and help in regard of making solid plans to bring to our campus and help to plan. I was looking for ideas, for suggestions, a bit of suggestion and also I wanted to know where other students stood on the Anti-War stance.
What ended up happening was just this enormous and very upsetting event. The conference started with a panel on Saturday morning. No other students from other schools spoke during this time, mainly people from Berkley. Lunch was served.Workshops were held and I viewed the workshops as the best thing that came out of my traumatizing weekend. The next day on Sunday there was a delegation meeting. The Berkeley group without asking any other schools had decided to only allow 5 delegates from each school to be involved in the voting and decision making process during this conference. So 5 delegates from each school who basically named themselves delegates were picked to make choices for their entire school without even having a chance to speak with the other members from their school. From the time the process of the delegation meeting started it was doomed to fail. In NO WAY was there talk of process, all 190 people were basically TOLD that we would have to be in a majority voting process without it EVER being discussed. We were just told this was how things were going to be, no discussion was even held about this. Please remember that we have 45 schools present at this conference, non of which were told that they had a choice between consensus decision making process, majority voting, or other forms of decision making. There was no access to a list server or phone conference calls by schools, we were told that there were email list servers, I know my schools and a few others who tried numerous times to contact The Berkley Stop the War Coalition but our emails went unanswered. Nothing about the process and the format of this conference regarding how we were going to make decisions were known, and there were many people there who were very young, and this was their first event like this who expressed over and over they did not understand the process and felt like they were shut down, glossed over or just plain ignored.
Back to the conference, they asked the schools to put forth proposals that we wanted to be voted on. There were 25 proposals in all and we had from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM to get through them all. The first proposal was to establish a coordinating committee. So basically we were asked to instead of having 5 delegates from each school which is already undemocratic, we were now being asked to have only 1 delegate representing each school, forming basically a body of government working within this coalition. How can that even happen? how can we only have 1 representative from each school communicating and bringing forth the entire schools anti-war perspective? is this right? well we didn't’t think so, but that didn%27t’t matter since we were the minority by votes and the first proposal that started our meeting was passed. Time ticked on and all types of proposals regarding Days of Action, consumer boycott after Thanksgiving, March to DC, and various other “important” proposals were passed or thrown aside… in the meantime people are raising their hand and being told by the Facilitator/moderator that they don’t have time and they can’t talk. Dialogue was being cut off, and discussions were told that they could not go on because we didn%27t’t have time. Over and over they stopped taking stack and told people not to raise their hands, over and over people stood up and asked for clarification, and asked to be heard and they were shut down. A young man in the back stood up and said that this process was undemocratic, and that people have even stopped voting, because they did not understand what was going on, since everything was being cut off and stopped. People were becoming frustrated and asking to be heard, at this point the facilitator looked confused and sent everyone to lunch. During lunch groups started to gather and the words of confusion and being upset were in the air, groups were talking about walk outs, and they were talking about confronting this the minute they went back in.
Once we came back into he hall, hands went up and people wanted a Process Point, wanted a stop to the voting so that certain things could be said, this AGAIN was ignored, glossed over and the voting continued. As this was going on I watched a young lady with a few others sitting in rows behind her stand up and walk out into the hall, about 15 minutest later they came back and went towards the podium, and asked from a Process Point. An older middle eastern man stood up and asked that the student groups please please involve more middle eastern people and not ignore the things we want to say, and to please reach out to the middle eastern groups in regards to organizing against the war. One womin went up and asked that there please be more discussion before we vote so that we can all know what we are voting for, so that we can all know what information to take back to our campus and present to the groups we were supposed to be representing. She also asked for a more democratic voting process, because she did not feel comfortable at all in the situation that was going on. After her another young womin who was middle eastern spoke and basically pleaded with the group to include more voice of the middle eastern people and to not please leave them out, her voice was shaking as she was saying this, and she said that many of her friends and comrades had felt very very isolated from the white/academia community and felt like nobody was listening to them. After her 2 people from the conference organizing group stood up who were middle eastern and said that there are many middle eastern groups that are not against the war and that’s why they were not there. The Facilitator said that he wanted to vote for us to either continue w/ the majority voting process or move towards a consensus decision making process. A vote was actually taken for this, but nobody actually explained what consensus or majority voting is, nobody said anything about it, and again there were so many people there who had no idea what consensus even was, so how was this a fair vote?
With a all this going on I watched as the two girls who made the process point, two women of color I might add who had the guts to walk up in front of a huge group and ask for there to be a voice. They walked out of the meeting, many people followed them, as the rest of the body continued voting and deciding things. I was in shock basically, I have never in the few years I have been trying to dedicate my life to organizing around issues such as these have I seen such blatant disrespect and undemocratic process unfold.
I eneded up leaving the meeting, and outside in the hallway I heard from the groups that had gathered that there was going to be holding a small meeting out on the steps of the Life Science Hall, they invited anyone who was upset about the decision making process to come join them and voice their concerns, since they were not being allowed to inside the meeting.
I decided to go to that meeting, and I counted 59 other people who felt the way I did, and who also had major concerns. Women spoke about how they the entire was so sexist, and that they were cut off over and over when they tried to bring up issues, people of color spoke out about how they did not feel included in this process from day one, other schools talked about why have both these California conferences, just happen to end up in Berkley, why are they not rotating? People from the Queer community talked about they felt like they did not have a space or voice to talk. In general people talked about how they feared speaking up and did not feel like they should, so they just bit their tongue and continued with the process. The most interesting part was when about 5 people who were actually part of the group from Berkley who organized this conference came to our meeting and told us that they had so many problems also regarding these issues, and they had never fixed them. A group of them continued speaking and told us that they felt like the presence of ISO members and ISO regional coordinator a man named Todd was what was the breaking point of this conference. New information was revealed that the facilitator name Snehal who has been cutting people off left and right when they brought opposition views was an ISO member, more was revealed when we found out the people making proposals and being put on head of planning coordinating committees were all ISO people, that the people who wanted to organize the march to DC were ISO members, the people in charge of the next conference and coordinating committee were ISO members, that the contact person from the Southern California Schools Against War a man I think named BJ was an ISO member, and he was the only contact the Southern California schools had been able to have with Berkley because the Berkley folks would not return the emails of others who were inquiring.
Personally I know we have all heard things about this group, but I don’t belong to any affiliation, I consider myself a socialist actually, I have never felt the need to call them out or point these issues out about them up until now because this was such a blatant undemocratic tactic that was used by them. I have very personal politics Im able to distinguish a time and a place to bring those personal political structural ideas forth. This conference entirely failed to do that. Beneath a cloud of secrets, non-transparency, non-communication, and blockade of involvement this conference was held as an ISO platform related event disguised as an open Coalition of Schools organizing against the war in Afghanistan. The entire platform and structure that was designed and reinforced by forming these special committees and assigning one delegate from each school. The entire fact that no communist, or anarchist views or speakers were allowed to join, be present or speak on the panel, the very idea that the people organizing this thought that people were too stupid to be able to make a choice between consensus and majority vote, so they made that decision for them, they did not think that these group of students who are good enough to outreach, organize and build a movement. But they are not good enough to be given the choice of which democratic process they want to use in making decisions. Im very sad that I even have to write this long essay, but the fact remains we are fighting a system right now, we are fighting against a war. The US is using so many issues regarding Afghanistan to justify their actions in bombing and killing the people in that region, they are lying to us, they are hiding things from us, they think we are too stupid to figure it out and make a wise decision ourselves. This is the same thing that happened this weekend as I watched it unfold. I hate this bickering and name calling between groups as much as the next person, but Im able to realize that we need to do this, we need to be able to see when this type of racist, sexist domination is being done. When we are being told lies, and having a front group being coordinated but behind the mask there is a political party, and a political agenda. I never not once before this weekend have I attacked the ISO or had even one bad thing to say about them, but this blatant cover up, this blatant lies and secrecy have no place in our movement, they have no place in our lives. This group has proven to be wonderful politician, but please try to remember it was the politicians who have brought us all to this place, it was their lies and decent that have become all of our problems. Enough is enough, stop the bull shit, if the ISO wanted a Anti War School Coalition, they should have called it the ISO Anti War School Coalition, at least I would respect them for being honest in doing that, stop the bull shit, you can only lie and try to trick people for so long. The “masses” as the ISO calls them are NOT stupid.
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
An unlucky readerAndrew R. HighsmithWednesday May 22nd, 2002 11:40 PM
For a world without bosses !JepSunday Mar 17th, 2002 2:08 PM
For a world without bosses !JepSunday Mar 17th, 2002 10:40 AM
Civil EngineerJepSunday Mar 17th, 2002 10:26 AM
ISOConcerned Anarchist PunkFriday Feb 22nd, 2002 1:19 PM
war is sometimes a good solutiondaveFriday Feb 22nd, 2002 12:52 PM
war is sometimes a good solutiondaveFriday Feb 22nd, 2002 12:48 PM
View from Canada -- deal with indivduals!SteveMonday Dec 10th, 2001 3:34 PM
i dont see the big ruccusradical-green-anarcho-commy bastardMonday Dec 10th, 2001 11:18 AM
frank-shut upbolMonday Dec 3rd, 2001 10:46 AM

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