| Students for Bhopal Conference
The first Students for Bhopal conference was a blast! More than
30 SfB members attended from as far away as India, and more than
12 schools were represented overall. From start to finish, the conference
was one big PARTY!
Well, not exactly, but we did have a lot of fun. Held at the University
of Cincinnati campus and graciously hosted by AID-Cincinnati from
Sept. 3-4, 2005, the conference brought together students to learn
about Bhopal and plan for the year ahead. In 17 sessions spread
over two days (September 3-4, 2005) the conference covered topics
ranging from updates on the campaign and lawsuits against Dow-Carbide
to workshops on organizing, media and outreach.
"Students for Bhopal"
Ryan Bodanyi, the Coordinator of Students for Bhopal, discussed
the state of the student movement for justice - and drew lessons
from the previous student movement against Dow which forced the
company to stop the production of Napalm. Today, Dow is again vulnerable
to student protest: its connections with schools across the country
include recruiting, research, massive contributions and college
investments in the company totaling at least $110 million.
Rachna Dhingra, the India Coordinator for ICJB, brought us up to
date on the very latest news from Bhopal - but not before Adriane
surprised her by leading us all in singing "Happy Birthday!"
John Mathias moderated an interactive session in which attendees
shared their own experiences of organizing for Bhopal. The session
featured a report from Akhil Katyal, representing "We for Bhopal"
Delhi University in India, about their meeting with the President
of India; their fact-finding trip to Bhopal last year; and the report
and film which they produced, documenting their experiences.
"Vision for SfB"
In this session, facilitated by Aquene Freechild, we dreamed about
what SfB might look like in two years - and what we might accomplish.
A few nuggets:
..........• 12 New England colleges
divest from DOW, Wheaton College leads the way.
..........• Local story - Wheaton
college students convince President Crutcher to sign pledge to not
have any affiliation with Dow. No investments, contributions or
buying of Dow products because of Bhopal.
..........• "I thought I
could run and hide but I guess college students do more than skip
classes and guzzle beer. Who'd have guessed?" - Warren Anderson,
from Indian Jail.
..........• Dow executives have
fled the country for Antarctica, the only place they are safe.
..........• Bhopal advocates march
on White House and Indian Embassy in simultaneous giant protests
..........• Indian embassy hangs
sign outside: "Sorry about being big jerks re: Bhopal"
The conference was also a great opportunity for SfB members to
have fun together and get to know each other. Friends were made,
meals were shared (the food at the conference was absolutely delicious)
and laughter was almost everywhere (most of it inspired by DC, Adriane,
or Somnath). Saturday night featured a walk along the Kentucky side
of the Ohio River, organized by Sandesh (who also served as an impromptu
tour guide). The night included a stroll across the purple bridge,
led by the infamous "cool Wheaton" gang, who delighted
the crowd by leading with a jig.
None of it would have been possible without the tremendous support
from AID-Cincinnati, our conference hosts. They did an outstanding
job arranging for meals, facilities, and accommodations, and we
all owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all their hard work!
We're already planning for next year's conference, also planned
for Labor Day weekend. So save the date!
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