Activists seek to involve students

Katie Robb

Activists on campus introduced ISU students to the opportunities and power of activism during a luncheon this weekend. The six-person discussion panel featured during the luncheon Friday consisted of four professors, two alumni and a current student who have been involved in activist efforts at Iowa State. “Student activism has always been an essential part of progressive social movements,” said Tony Smith, professor of philosophy. “The panel hoped to introduce new students to the tradition of student activism at Iowa State, to let students and faculty active on different issues learn about what other groups are doing and to think about the most pressing issues for future activism.” Carl Mize, associate professor of forestry, said the panel was intended to “let people talk about their activism at ISU and get some interaction with those who attended.” Jeremy Varner, current president of ISU Students for Nader and the ISU Greens, said the luncheon was a great opportunity to show students the power of activism. “A single student with only a little free time can make a huge difference,” said Varner, senior in history. “The power of a little chalk and a few photocopies is phenomenal. A simple protest or rally on campus, while not always changing policy directly, often sets the agenda.” Among the variety of issues discussed during the luncheon, one of the most predominant was last year’s movement against former ISU President Martin Jischke. Mize, one of the main participants in a petition against Jischke, spoke about his role. “I chose to participate because I believe what is going on at ISU is absurd, ludicrous, offensive and shows malfeasance and dishonesty on the part of the president and [state Board of] Regents,” Mize said. Other members of the panel promoted activism beyond the ISU community. “Human beings are beautiful, loving creatures who have a love of justice, and we need to nurture that,” ISU graduate Jeff Weiss said. Weiss encouraged students and faculty to participate in groups opposed to genocide in third-world countries. The panel also offered advice on how to take the first step toward getting involved with activism. “See the things around you that need to be done and do them,” said Gary Tartakov, professor of art and design. “That is what activism is about.” Following the panel discussion, a question-and-answer session addressed the proposed Jischke Honors building, increasing manipulation of the organic properties of fruits and vegetables, and the new student-disciplinary regulations. The panel was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union at Iowa State and the ISU Greens.