Thursday, September 21, 2006

Guantanamo: How Should We Respond? - a national teach-in

during the 1960s, teach-ins on college campuses were common. the reasons for this were many, and one is that the times were extremely chaotic and violent. the teach-ins, organized despite harassment, intimidation, and sometimes violence, reminded us that college campuses were important and relevant spheres of democracy.

on october 5, 2006 there will be a national teach-in around the theme:the teach-in takes place at seton hall law school in newark, new jersey and will be broadcasted to over 200 participating campuses in 44 states.

because october 5 is near, most readers affiliated with academia won't be able to organize an event on their campuses. but as engaged scholars, events like this, especially in times like ours, merit our attention and thoughts.

this project has three main elements:

1. On October 5th, Seton Hall will host an all-day conference available at academic institutions across the United States to study the national and international implications of indefinitely detaining hundreds of individuals deemed "enemy combatants."

the speaker's list is massively diverse. topics range from "medical professionals and guantanamo" and "journalists look behind the wire" to "history of torture in the modern world" and "american detention policy: the next frontier." speakers include professors, attorneys, governmental officials, military officials, religious leaders, and human rights advocates. among the speakers are journalists from the new yorker, the new york times, the miami herald, and time magazine.

2. Beginning at 10:00 EST, the Teach-In will be available via high-quality video streams accessed through this website. Schools in earlier time zones can pick up the sessions in progress or, by accessing a recording of the earlier sessions, view the whole program from the beginning.

This teach-in is truly national. currently, as of september 20, over 200 campuses in 44 states are organizing teach-ins about guantanamo. the overwhelming majority of hosts are law schools, colleges, and universities. there are also 5 seminaries and 1 medical school participating in the teach-in. additional information regarding the technology that connects the events at seton hall to the rest of the participating campuses can be found here.

3. And, of course, participating schools can schedule their own programming instead of or in addition to some of the nationally broadcast sessions.

for example, here at USF, the following events have been organized by many, many people:
    thursday, october 5
    9:00 am - 3:00 pm
    terrace room, USF law school

    9:00 - 10:30: Attorneys Bud Walsh and Bernie Casey, both of whom represent Guantanamo Bay detainees, will present.

    10:30 - noon: Professor Richard Leo (Law School) will speak on interrogations, with emphasis on interrogations at Guantanamo.

    Noon - 1:30: Frank Lindh (father of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban") will speak along with a lawyer from the firm that represented John.

    1:30 - 3:00: Attorney and Professor Banafsheh Akhlaghi (Politics) will speak on representing deportees, refugees, people on the no-fly list and other people under the radar.

    3:00 pm - : We will run the Internet feed from Seton Hall, beginning with the first presentation.
i have some questions that i hope can be addressed by someone in the organizing team - or anyone who knows the answer - in the comments:
  1. is there any attempt to make this an international teach-in?

  2. is there a list of what other participating campuses are doing on a local level? in other words, i know what kind of events are happening at USF - what's going on at other campuses? there is this list, which lists the events at USF and at antioch university, but i imagine there are more, right?

  3. what are some of the foreseeable online interactions? can participants at non-seton hall campuses post questions and comments for seton hall speakers? what kinds of technologies are in place - or are being planned - to facilitate interactions between participating campuses?

  4. hey, youtube and flickr experts! what are some of the ways these technologies can be used to distribute, archive, and further distribute the teach-in?
a national teach-in on how to respond to guantanamo - what a great idea. it takes a great deal of work to organize projects like this. it also takes a great deal of courage, since so many college and university campuses, like so many other sectors of american society, are hostile to engaged debate and dissent. finally, it takes a great deal of faith to organize projects like this - faith in college campuses as spheres of relevance, spheres of creativity and inspiration, and spheres of democracy.

projects like this make me proud to be a professor.

1 comment:

Mark Denbeaux said...

[comment by Mark Denbeaux - posted with permission by david.]

It is a great time to be an academic and it does resemble the 60's. People are coming together and they feel good about it. Sometimes events pull us apart and then later circumstances pull us together. The recent response to our program indicates that the sudden confluence of events is bringing many people together and they enjoy the bonding. Remarkable times.

The recent events seem to have produced a nationwide eagerness to share in the debate about the lessons of Guantanamo. We have had more than 60 schools join in the last week. That is the result of nothing but word of mouth.

The number of participating schools has grown beyond our capacity to count. Schools are combining together. We keep finding more schools that are putting together joint programs. Other schools have representatives of as many as twenty schools faculty combining. We have been advised of almost three endured participating institutions by some time this week. That is evidently only a portion of all of the participating institutions. We are not sure what to tell the press. It is far more than 200 but certainly less than 400--now. Each day it grows in ways that are wondrous to behold.

We hope that the blogs will be the engine now and you are the first one to find us. After all a simulcast across the nation is the electronic form of the March on Washington. In this case it welcomes a wide variety of people, personalities and views. It is also different from isolated campuses having teach-ins that were unconnected and never shared. This is connected, shared, thoughtful and a truly academic experience.

In some sense this whole exercise is a blog or perhaps a reverse blog. (I am old enough to remember the 60's vividly but not young enough to comfortably tell bloggers what they are or are not.).

Responses to your questions in no order:

We are a blog in the sense that we send information out and we are a blog in the sense that we can and will receive comments back. While the program can not be interactive. During the program there will be a means of on line chatting by all participants. Our law students can explain this to you. In addition, during the program there will be a way for participants to send questions to the panelists. After the panelists are finished we have arranged to have them sit own with computers and answer those questions. We would then post the questions and the answers. I am not sure how many questions could be answered. Obviously, more questions take longer. We certainly will include the q and a in the archived panels.

We will be archiving the sessions as they are being completed. One reason is that because of time zone issues West Coast schools will be starting three hours later. They will be able to play the previous sessions as they chose. We Will have the program archived forever. It may also be distributed in other ways. We are filing a permission for the program to be replayed--we say for educational purposes only--.

We could use any thoughts on how to make it the most technologically useful and interactive as possible.

We seriously considered an international program. We had problems with time zones and technology. We also ran out of time. We did our program in a rush--we did not expect it to grow as it has. WE lost much time over the summer, the international schools calendars were different from our calendars. Worst of all we lost the entire summer for organizational purposes. We started in April and lost much of May through August.

We would still welcome international programs and if any wanted to join we would find ways to accommodate them.

The other schools programs are now just coming in. I will have a program from Boston College up tomorrow and perhaps Tufts. Rowan College is coming in also. The Antioch program seems to be buried in our web page but it should not be. You should check theirs out. They have five different programs at their different campuses and they are remarkable. I have not checked but New Mexico Law School has it on its web page, I do not know what else they have. Syracuse seems to have put together an elaborate program as well.

Go forth spread the word.

You can reach me at Seton Hall law school: denbeama [at ]