Bruin Alumni Association
UCLA's Fight Against the War on Terror

Chapter 1 - A Day for 'Solidarity'

Chapter 2 - Changing the Subject

Chapter 3 - The Students

Chapter 4 - The Professors

Chapter 5 - Resolutions All Around!

UCLA's Fight Against the War on Terror

Chapter 3
The Students

    Unfortunately for UCLA, the MSA is but one of many anti-war groups operating on campus.  At an apolitical September 25, 2001 student vigil at UCLA, the newly formed Student Coalition Against War was already hard at work in its campaign against any form of American military retaliation.  With Ground Zero still smoldering, SCAW spokesman, local International Socialist Organization flack, and UCLA student Behzad Raghian worked the crowd, brazenly passing out fliers recruiting students to SCAW’s anti-war cause.[i]  Less than two weeks later on October 8th, the group marched through Westwood to the Federal  Building chanting “One, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war!”[ii]  Their November 28th anti-war protest, which followed on the heels of a similar October 24th action, featured six anti-war speakers, including UCLA alumna Shohali Bose, who asked students the breathtaking rhetorical question, “You really must look at yourself and at your country and say, ‘Who is the terrorist here?’”[iii]

    SCAW’s primary focus was on preventing the invasion of Afghanistan.  When that effort failed, the group faded.  Their anti-war banner was picked up by another group calling itself the Global Peace and Justice Coalition (later just “Peace and Justice Coalition”), which focused its efforts on opposing a war in Iraq.  The Coalition’s membership was essentially a reshuffling of the usual suspects from other campus radical groups.  Its members included Elizabeth Delgado of MEChA, who attended an October 7, 2002 rally with radical Undergraduate Student Association Council officers, including External Vice President Chris Neal.  Neal’s comment to the Bruin was characteristic of his movement: the United States is “not after Saddam, [it’s] going after the Iraqi people."[iv]  MEChA and undergraduate student government were not the only groups to form common cause with the Coalition.  Other Coalition rallies featured speakers like Cristina Lopez of the radical Hispanic women’s group Conciencia Libre (Free Conscience).[v]  The Peace and Justice Coalition circulated a student petition against the war during her November 20, 2002 speech, garnering the endorsement of 15 different student groups and the signatures of 700 total students.[vi]  Coalition members were not just connected with racial minority groups, but with the radical adult world as well.  Coalition members attended rallies which were organized by the hard-line Maoist and Communist groups International ANSWER, Not In Our Name, and the National Lawyers’ Guild.  Adhering to UCLA’s mantra of being part of a larger community, the radicals happily made common cause with the likes of Sami Al-Arian, Lynne Stewart, and C. Clark Kissinger.

    Drawing strength from the coalition of radical student groups, and from their Communist elders, the Peace and Justice Coalition pushed through, on a party-line 5-0-5 vote, a November 26, 2002 Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) resolution against an invasion of Iraq.  Not surprisingly, the “RESOLUTION in SOLIDARITY with the PEOPLE of the world in support of true GLOBAL PEACE!” [sic], fell into a logic trap over the course of its 22 “whereas” clauses.  In one breath, the resolution’s signatories “stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq, but not the dictatorial government that has been imposed upon them,” and in the next “affirm that more war in Iraq will result in more innocent bloodshed to the innocent people of Iraq” [sic].  While USAC showed laudable restraint in at least not endorsing Saddam Hussein, one wondered how the resolution would get out of the rhetorical cul-de-sac created by accepting both of the arguments.  The answer: “support the popular movement in Iraq fighting for the self-determination of their people.”  That’s a brave idea but ultimately unworkable, given that prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there was no major, much less successful, rebel movement within Iraq.  Notwithstanding its flawed logic and facts, the resolution, by virtue of USAC approval, established a radical anti-war position on behalf of the entire undergraduate student population.[vii]

    The five abstentions, according to the explanation of one, General Representative Adam Harmetz, were a matter of not “know[ing] how all undergraduate students felt.”[viii]  The answer came back a few weeks later in the form of a widely-answered online survey (5,500 of UCLA’s 16,000 undergraduates participated).  While non-randomized and therefore technically unscientific, the high response rate, along with the broad range of questions asked, made the chances of a skewed response group relatively low.

    The question of note read, “Under what circumstances would you support going to war against Iraq?”  52.3% favored “If Iraq fails to comply with UN resolutions and there is a broad international consensus,” while another 20% supported war if Iraq merely “fails to comply with UN resolutions,” and lastly, 3.4% favored war under any circumstances.  The “no war under any circumstances” position – resolved by USAC to represent the official stance of all students – only garnered 24.4% approval.[ix]  The survey, for the first time in memory, laid bare the hypocrisy of a USAC majority by conclusively demonstrating the divide between their radical opinions and that of the student population as a whole.  

    Go to Chapter 4 - The Professors







[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Author’s materials;