Weekend of Action to Address BDS, Eco-Issues

Sydney Allen, Editor-in-Chief

A coalition of student groups, led by the Student Labor Action Committee, is hosting Oberlin’s second annual Weekend of Action this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We’d been talking for a while about wanting to improve connections among Oberlin’s various groups and share knowledge while also making space for more relaxed social interactions, and [the Weekend of Action] seemed [like] a good way to do both,” wrote SLAC Cochair Maxime Berclaz in an email to the Review.

Last year’s series of events, which were held in March, featured more than 30 workshops and speakers, including a Prison Justice Workshop, an Anti-Imperialism Workshop and an Education Justice 101 event hosted by the Oberlin Young Educators.

The student groups coordinating this year’s workshop series include Students for a Free Palestine, the Responsible Investment Organization,

Real Food Oberlin, Students for Energy Justice, Obies for Undocumented Inclusion and Oberlin Students in Solidarity with El Salvador.

“It’s a great place to get in touch with other student organizers, find out what folks are working on and learn from each other,” Berclaz said.

The weekend will kick off with a workshop led by Students for a Free Palestine, “How to Organize for BDS and Against Anti-BDS Legislation,” held today at 5 p.m. SFP aims to examine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as a political organizational strategy and discuss methods for overcoming its potential challenges.

“The individual workshops are obviously great, but also just the act of bringing dedicated people together in a setting that extends beyond any single group is hugely important,” Berclaz said. “Creating a broader culture of both solidarity and social struggle allows for diffusion of strategies and information, while laying the groundwork for something that will outlast any individual organizer or project.”

Saturday will feature workshops discussing Oberlin’s financial system, the environmental issues embedded within the global industrial food system and the neoliberalism of Oberlin’s environmental policy.

The Responsible Investment Organization’s workshop, “Endowments 101: Breaking Through the Bureaucratic BS,” will address the complexities of the administration’s financial decision-making.

“This workshop is designed to provide people with the basics about how the school’s finances work and to get people excited to learn about how understanding the economics of the situation can empower their activism,” College first-year Charlotte Andrews wrote in an email to the Review. “We would love to be a support for other groups on campus struggling against administrative blocks.”

RIO’s current working groups are Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, and Private Prison Divestment. PILOT calls for large tax-exempt institutions to pay an annual sum to the towns in which they are located. These payments are meant to help offset the burdens that institutions like Oberlin place on their small town economies. RIO has also worked with the Fossil Fuels Divestment campaign.

“[We want to] increase awareness for what students can do to affect change in the College and the community,” Andrews said.

Andrews has spent much of her time with RIO researching private prisons as the group pushes for the College to financially reject such institutions.

“RIO has had some major successes in making the College change their ways, and those tactics can be applied to so many different causes,” Andrews said. “Get excited about your activism! We can really make change!”

The weekend will close Sunday with presentations by Obies for Undocumented Inclusion, SLAC and Oberlin Students in Solidarity with El Salvador.