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Campus conference links peace and student issues

Joan Huang — October 1983

Amid newspaper headlines saying that the “court battle will not stall cruise testing,” academics and student peace activists urged concerted opposition to the missile testing planned in Canada.

The two-day Students for Peace and Disarmament conference, organised by the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) at the University of Toronto in mid-September, drew more than 30 student representatives from universities in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor.

Delegates from a number of peace groups in Canada presented talks on peace and disarmament, with particular focus on youth and student issues. Jeff Parr, research assistant to NDP Defence Critic Lorne Nystrom, spoke on the relationship .between rising defence expenditures and cutbacks in post-secondary education and youth unemployment.

According to Parr, national defence expenditures rose 18.7% more than 1981, which was 3 to 5% above the ongoing inflation rate, while spending on social services, of which education takes a major share, have barely kept pace with inflation.

Terry Gardner of Science for Peace talked about the process of implementing peace studies in campus curricula, which are likely to come about at the University of Toronto in the foreseeable future. Gardner saw the establishment of a Chair devoted to Peace Studies as a possible solution to the conflict-of-interest situation caused by the $1.4 million worth of military research that is conducted at U. of T.

Other presentations included Nuclear Weapons and Canadian Foreign Policy by Dr. Ursula Franklin; Military Research on Campus by Ahab Abdel-Aziz and John Becker; Nuclear Energy and the Arms Race by Paul McKay and a dinner banquet and benefit dance for the Union of Unemployed Workers. Many speakers encouraged students to build a major university-based campaign for disarmament.

The largest student peace group is UCAM — (United Campuses against Nuclear War), which held an “end the arms race” rally at U. of T. on Sept. 16th, just prior to the conference. The organization has more than 150 chapters in most major universities in the United States, but only one chapter in Canada. Since its establishment at the University of Toronto in mid-1982, UCAM, (which also stands for the U. of T. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), now holds 210 members, of which more than 100 are students. Chairperson,

Sarah Winterton, stressed that while they cooperate with their counterparts in the States, such as participating in the strategy conference in Chicago in mid-June, the main task at present is opposition to the cruise testing and the education of students on the issue.

A conference on peace studies will be held in November, catering mainly ‘to students in Toronto. The principal speaker will be Anatol Rapoport, director of Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna and a renowned peace researcher.