You can’t write a dissertation without cracking a few books. Neither can you take a stand on an issue of global importance without taking your eyes off the Playstation for a few hours and engaging in dialogue on the issue in question. This weekend’s Stop the War conference will provide just such an opportunity. The program’s primary goal is to educate activists and, according to its website, to “increase the effectiveness of the antiwar movement.” The program will include a wide range of activities, including panels, workshops and lectures featuring prominent intellectuals and experienced activists who seek to garner support for this movement.

Since the United States has yet to declare war on Iraq or any other nation, some may argue that this conference’s timing is premature. But President Bush’s deployment of troops from Fort Hood and the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort clearly signals the possibility of military conflict. In many of his addresses, Bush has mentioned the necessity of force in this situation with Iraq. The president’s political rhetoric has implied that he is considering war against Iraq and so far dissenters have been fairly meek. Given the United States’ propensity toward war, this anti-war conference seems logical and necessary. Yet its importance lies not in its ideological position on the subject per se, but in its methods and motives for affirming this position.

For the University, the conference serves two key functions. First, the event serves to educate, and arguably this is its main goal. By bringing professors from around the country to speak on campus, it proclaims its devotion to the most important asset to a war-bound nation, and more specifically a college student: knowledge. As future intellectuals and the future citizens and historians who will criticize and shape public opinion of this period, our complete understanding of these current events is mandatory. Whether you are conservative or liberal, dove or hawk, informed analysis of this historic situation is the only way to justify any position.

There is a loftier, less tangible reason to attend this conference: to continue the tradition of student activism here at the University and among most American college students. As the intellectual youth of the nation, our activism in political acts as a reputable symbol of public opinion. A demonstration at a college, whether pro-war or anti-war, shows the government that concerned and informed individuals feel adamantly about the issue. Involvement in current events is the mark of college students who understand and care about the world around them.

The Stop the War conference presents an array of informative sessions designed to educate students about this war, war in general and the nature of activism, while motivating students to develop an opinion and stand by their convictions. It is an asset to the University student who desires to be educated and active.

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