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Jackson column misreads peace effort

I am generally able to dismiss Bill Jackson '93's "column" in The Tech as empty drivel. However, his recent uninformed comments concerning the gulf war and the peace center were particularly nauseating and erroneous ["Students split on gulf war," Feb. 5].

Jackson's view of the peace center seems to arise from a poster in the Infinite Corridor, and his inability to recognize the peace center staffers. From this information, Jackson concludes that "people from outside MIT have invaded us just to live on Stratton third and protest the war."

He goes on to liken the center to the "hippy-trippy" 1960s. Jackson buttresses his opinion of the peace center with the assessment that MIT students are busy people and wouldn't have time for such an enterprise.

If Jackson had overcome his apparent fear of the unknown and bothered to converse with peace center staffers, he would have made several discoveries. He would have found that the peace center is operated by the MIT Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, which was founded by a group of MIT students following an October lecture by Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Noam A. Chomsky.

Although the Initiative is open to the general community, an overwhelming majority of the 70 active members are MIT students, while over 200 students have signed up to be on our mailing/e-mailing list. The peace center itself is staffed almost exclusively by MIT students, although we certainly appreciate the assistance of members from outside the MIT community.

If Jackson had come to the peace center tables, he would have discovered that in addition to the poster he saw at the end of the Infinite Corridor (which was donated by a homeless Vietnam veteran), the center maintains a large library of information concerning the war.

This library includes texts of speeches by local academics, politicians, foreign English-language media, alternative domestic news and analysis, student-written analysis and Amnesty International reports.

We hope that by providing information to the MIT community (information largely unavailable from the mainstream press, given the present jingoistic tone of war coverage), and by having MIT students staffing the center available to discuss thoughts and feelings about the war, we can help to educate the MIT community.

Jackson is correct in noting that there are numerous demands upon MIT students' time. However, the members of the MIT Initiative for Peace feel that the gulf war is so catastrophic that we are willing to donate large amounts of time to the MIT peace movement.

I found it disturbing that Jackson's column focused almost entirely on determining MIT student opinion, while the only invasion he refers to is that of the Student Center by peace activists. Instead of attempting to rely on some crude barometer of public opinion, I would urge Jackson to educate himself on the war, and come to his own informed conclusions.

Jory Bell '91->

MIT Initiative for Peace->