US student anti-war campaign: Drop the charges against the Berkeley 3

Submitted by Anon on 26 November, 2003 - 11:56

By Jim Bywater

On Monday 17 November the Dean of Students at UC Berkeley, Karen Kenney turned the clock back decades by approving sanctions against three Berkeley students for their part in a peaceful campus sit-in on 20 March. (For more details about the event and the "trial" go to www.antiwarnetwork.org)
The protest was organised by the Berkeley Stop the War coalition and involved 4,000 students at a rally with 400 participating in the sit-in.

Rachel Odes and Snehal Shingavi now face 20 hours of community service and a letter of reprimand permanently placed on their academic record. Michael Smith faces 30 hours of community service, plus a stayed suspension for one semester. Smith will also be forced to attend "anger management" sessions at the university's infirmary that if completed "successfully" may commute his suspension to a letter of reprimand.

This use of psychological treatment as punishment for a political activity recalls the Stalinist classification of dissent as a "psychiatric disorder".

In 1964 Berkeley students formed the Free Speech Movement amidst protests and sit-ins against the university administration's restrictions on advocating political causes on campus. Today the university institutionally applauds the movement of almost 40 years ago yet victimises those who actually have the courage to stand up for their beliefs today.

The last appeal is now in the hands of Assistant Chancellor John Cummins who will issue his final verdict sometime before protests on 2 December.

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