What Happened?
Where is Bhopal?
Why Bhopal?


Campaigns
Dow At MY School?
Event Ideas
Resources
Skills Toolbox


Active Schools
Dow & YOU
Victories
Photos


Campaign Demands
Dow's Liabilities
Dirty Dow
Quotes
Volunteer
Donations


Information
Action
Testimonials
Teaching Bhopal
Links


Who We Are
Members Forum
SfB Awards


Join our "updates" list

Name:

Email address:



Powered by
Freefind

Pass A Student Government Resolution

Pass a Student Government Resolution! Draft a resolution calling on your school to divest, reject Dow’s funding, or expel Dow recruiters. Present the resolution to your student government with a supporting petition from the student body, faculty, and alumni.

Why Pass A Resolution? Resources
How to Pass A Resolution Challenging Dow: How We Did It At UM


Why Pass A Resolution?

Outreach Opportunity
One of the best things about pursuing a resolution is that it gives you an excuse to approach other student groups on your campus and talk with them about Bhopal. Once they learn about the disaster, many people want to help out and get involved. Therefore it’s a good idea to bring some ideas about how folks can contribute to your campaign before you approach them.

Deja Vu
Thirty years ago students across the country united to expel Dow and their moral destitution from their college and university campuses. The protests soiled Dow’s reputation for more than a decade, and remain a key reason why Dow invests so heavily in colleges today. The possibility that a new generation of students might rise once again to expel Dow from schools across the country isn’t only a threat to Dow’s business and bottom line – it’s the manifestation of one of their worst fears. Make it real.

Media Coverage
Demanding that your school expel a $40 billion corporation makes waves – and it makes news. Media coverage not only highlights your campaign, it soils Dow’s high-priced public relations image. And who doesn’t want to do that?

The Ripple Effect
Student Governments aren’t the only folks that have condemned Dow recently: the City of San Francisco, the European Parliament, and members of the US Congress have all passed resolutions demanding justice for Bhopal. You can see how this is becoming a major headache for Dow. Once the precedent is set, these things start to snowball, and pretty soon Dow could find itself universally reviled. That’s their fear, anyway. It’s our job to make it a reality.

- top -


How to Pass A Resolution

Research
Is Dow at YOUR school? If you don’t know, you should find out! Research Dow’s influence at your college or university, and discuss how you can challenge it. Once you’ve agreed on a larger campaign, you may decide that pursuing a student government resolution should play an important role. Make sure that your final resolution includes specific information about Dow’s associations with your school.

Getting Support
The easiest way for you to demonstrate support among the student body for your resolution (far easier than petitioning) is to have other student groups sign on as co-sponsors of the resolution. The easiest way to get them to sign on to your resolution is to ask, generally at one of their meetings. They'll probably want some time to look over the resolution, unless you've sent it beforehand over email. And they'll probably want to ask you questions about the resolution and the Bhopal disaster. Most student groups will usually be happy to sign on. At the University of Michigan, 28 student groups signed on to their successful Bhopal resolution before it was brought to the student government for a vote. On the other hand, only one group sponsored the successful Bhopal resolution at Wheaton College. It’s probably safe to say that the larger your university is, and the more ties to Dow that it has, the more support you'll want to have for your resolution before you present it to the student government for a vote.

If you're really on top of things, you can also try to gather some faculty support for your resolution. There are probably professors that you've developed a relationship with while you've been at the university and who you may feel comfortable asking for support. Several professors at the University of Michigan signed on in support of the Bhopal resolution there; the students at Wheaton didn't gather any faculty support for their successful resolution. Again, how much faculty support you decide to gather will probably depend on the size of your university and the extent of its associations with Dow.

Getting a Sponsor
In order to present your resolution officially before the student government, you'll probably need to find one member of the student government who’s willing to sponsor the resolution. This shouldn't be too hard. Many of the student groups that you're talking with will probably be able to suggest sympathetic members who’d be willing to offer the resolution for a vote.

Swaying the Vote
It's always good to plan on making a presentation before the student government in support of the resolution, even if they already seem likely to pass it. Most student governments will allow supporters of a resolution the opportunity to speak before it's voted on. Identifying people to speak on behalf of the resolution will give you an additional opportunity to make your case, and to answer any questions they might have. If you’re really clever, you can start early by inviting student reps to attend documentary screenings and other educational events before the vote.

- top -


Resources

..........Draft student government resolution
..........Previous Bhopal resolutions
..........Draft Media Advisory/Press Release
..........Educational events
..........Handouts and fact sheets about Bhopal
..........Bhopal Posters

- top -


Challenging Dow: How We Did It At The University of Michigan
By Ryan Bodanyi

In the fall of 2002, a small group of students came together at the University of Michigan to form the first campus campaign for Justice in Bhopal. We knew that we wanted to pressure Dow by challenging its relationship to the University of Michigan, and since Dow, a $40 billion company, was headquartered only an hour and a half away, we figured that Dow might have a significant presence at our school. But first we had to figure out what it was.

We started our research in October of 2002. Our task was made easier by the fact that our school was a public institution, so the first thing that we did was to file an open records request. A few of us had had previous experience filing requests, and we knew where within the University the requests should be filed. In the meanwhile, we began an intensive search of the school’s website, using a wide variety of search terms designed to bring up any articles, press releases or websites that might reveal the extent of the University’s relationship with Dow. This part was tedious; usually research is, but we uncovered a treasure trove of material. Leading University officials had been quoted publicly saying such things as “We are grateful to Dow - for their generosity, for their support, and for their trust.” Trust? Our school was grateful for Dow’s trust? Obviously Dow’s cash had bought it a lot of influence at the University of Michigan, an unsettling thought given what we knew about Dow.

When we received the University’s response to our open records request a month later, we learned that the University didn’t own any Dow stock. However Dow was a major contributor to the University of Michigan (over $12 million, placing it nearly in the top 25 all-time donors), and its associated foundations had contributed millions more. It was impressive to see Dow’s name on campus buildings, but from our research we knew that they only contributed a tiny fraction – sometimes as little as four or five percent – of the total building costs. And while lecture series are nice (who doesn’t enjoy a nice lecture now and then?), we considered it immoral to accept their money while Dow refused to spend that very same money to clean up its contamination in Bhopal – from which people continue to die every day. We decided that something had to be done.

But what? We put our heads together and crafted a plan of action. Armed with our new knowledge, we approached the Michigan Daily, our campus newspaper, and they agreed to do a feature on Dow, Bhopal, and the University’s ties to both. Eventually, this feature (published in January, 2003) grew to a sprawling full-page spread, and included six full articles, several of them written by us. It caused a major stir when it was published, and gave added momentum to our campaign. In the meanwhile, we drafted a resolution that we planned to submit to the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) which called on the University to refuse future donations from Dow until Dow began spending an equivalent amount to clean up Bhopal. We chose this strategy because we felt it was critical that we have demonstrable support from students for our cause – asking the University to refuse free money is a controversial thing, and we didn’t want to negotiate with the university without being able to say that we had the students on our side. Garnering some measurable example of student support would also make it easier for us to ask faculty for their support – we understood that on the University totem pole, students were ranked rather low, but we didn’t think that many faculty would support our campaign without having the excuse of widespread student support.

Drafting the resolution was one thing; gathering support was another. We chose a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, we’d ask regular students crossing the Diag (our campus crossroads) to sign a petition endorsing the resolution. On the other hand, we decided to approach other student groups and ask to speak about the resolution at their next meeting. Most student groups were more than willing to give us five minutes of their time, and we found that talking about Bhopal and the resolution served two purposes: first, student groups of all stripes (even musical, athletic, and conservative political groups) were willing to sign on; second, and more importantly, we were reaching out to active students throughout the university. While most were supportive, there were a few, usually one or two per group, who were outraged, and wanted to get further involved. Of course we told them to come to our weekly meetings and within a few weeks our meetings were huge, and represented a broad spectrum of students across the university.

On March 17, 2003, when the resolution came due for a vote before the Student Assembly, we were ready. Fully 28 student groups had signed on in support – unheard of for a student resolution – and 700 individual students had signed petitions in support. Several faculty members had signed on in support as well, and we’d lined up thirteen students – at 5 minutes each – to speak in favor of the resolution. As it happens, we were lucky that the support was so overwhelming. Dow had heard about our resolution and they weren’t happy. In fact, they had their head of Public Relations take time away from dealing with Agent Orange, dioxin, nemagon and Dow’s other scandals to focus his time on us. Unbeknownst to us, Dow had obtained a copy of our resolution and had developed slick rebuttals line by line – rebuttals that were no less slick or persuasive for being lies. These were read out in front of the Student Assembly, and if our support had been less substantial (or if we’d had fewer people there to explain how Dow was lying) we could easily have lost the vote. In the end it was close – 13 in favor, 10 voting against, with 7 abstentions. But we won! Dow was defeated and we celebrated.

From the start, we understood that it would be impossible to end Dow’s influence within a single school year. When we began the campaign no one knew about Bhopal or why it was important. By the end of the year Dow was afraid to show its face on campus lest we organize a protest (they learned this the hard way). Professors and Deans within several schools were privately questioning Dow’s influence in their departments and whether it should continue. Senior University officials were in closed-door discussions with Dow about our campaign, we learned. Only one thing stood in the way of ultimate success: graduation.

With newer blood, we could have carried on the campaign the following year, building faculty and community support and making Dow’s influence at the University politically untenable. But our group made the cardinal error that so many campus groups do: the leaders were all seniors! Graduation was like a decapitation, and instead of starting where we had left off next fall, the group started back at square one.

Despite that painful lesson, others are hopeful. Within one year it is possible to build widespread awareness and outrage about Bhopal. It is possible to challenge Dow’s influence at our schools, and to pose a threat by doing so. It is possible to defeat them in battle – with time, a smart strategy, and a strong group it is possible to win. Now, it’s your turn!

Questions? Email Ryan!

- top -


 


The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: April 30, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal