Calls for Iraq Referendum
senator Jesse Kanson-Benanav is bringing a possible war with Iraq
closer to home, calling for students to sign a referendum condemning
military action in Iraq.
On Sunday, a delegation from the Oberlin Coalition Against the War
will present a petition of over 100 students to the Student Senate,
demanding that the organization hold a referendum for students to
express their sentiments on the possible war. The proposed referendum
also asks that the College make public the student body’s
Kanson-Benanav will present a resolution calling for a full endorsement
by the Student Senate.
“Despite the fact that we, as a senate are forced to hold
a referendum by a petition of 100 students,” he said. “I
feel it’s important that we as the representatives of the
student body are fully supportive of giving the students a voice
on this issue.”
“It’s not going to be a resolution necessarily opposing
the war, but instead a resolution endorsing the referendum,”
Kanson-Benanav said that he’s certain that students will express
overwhelming opposition to the war.
“The idea is that if we have enough opposition from the student
body, that we’ll use that to convince the Administration or
College spokespeople to take a position against the war,”
College President Nancy Dye has said in the past that the College
should not take a stance on the issue, because Oberlin must allow
for diverse viewpoints.
As an individual, however, she vehemently opposes military action.
“I am delighted to hear that there is going to be a referendum,”
Dye said Thursday, while still expressing concern about the College
as an institution taking a position. “It’s a complicated
issue for an academic institution.”
The General Faculty would have to pass a measure, she said. The
last such faculty decision disavowed the U.S. stance on apartheid.
“I do understand the problems with that and the reluctancy
that President Dye may have,” Kanson-Benanav said. “But
we still feel that this is a critical issue, one of the most critical
issues of our time, and we demand that they take a position.”
Senior Marianna Leavy-Sperounis, an organizer of the anti-war coalition
will be speaking on the issue at the meeting. “It’s
vitally important,” Leavy-Sperounis said, “that we as
students have our voices heard on Bush’s proposed war with
Iraq. We are the [generation] who will have to deal with all the
consequences of U.S. military intervention in the region and to
this we shout a resounding NO!”
According to the bylaws of Student Senate, the organization is required
to carry out a referendum every two years.
Because they held a referendum last year, Senate has no plans for
one this year.
However, according to the bylaws, a petition of at least 100 students
can force Senate to hold a referendum. Still, a forced referendum
does not automatically imply an endorsement of the issue by Senate.
The Student Senate will discuss the referendum at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Meetings are held in room 210 of the Wilder Student Union. The meeting
is public and open to anyone; students are encouraged to attend.