Endorsed by the MIT Coalition for Social Justice
I. The Call The "Contract With America" currently under consideration in Congress purports to advance economic opportunity and make government more accountable and responsible to the people. After learning about the details of the Contract, we question the sincerity of these goals. In recent weeks we have heard about proposals which would: ¥ deny many young people the opportunity to attend college ¥ punish the poorest people for their economic status ¥ undo decades of efforts to reduce racism and other forms of discrimination ¥ allow big business to evade social and environmental responsibility. Congressional forces who won the last election claim to be acting on these measures IN OUR NAME. However, the slim electoral victory in Congress is no automatic mandate to enact mean-spirited laws that were disguised during the election campaign. We must make it clear that if these measures are enacted, it will be WITHOUT OUR CONSENT. A Contract we never signed is not a Contract with America; it is a Contract on America. We, the undersigned, therefore call for a National Day of Campus Action Against the "Contract With America" on March 29, 1995. We call for students, faculty, and staff organize forums, rallies, pickets, teach-ins, direct action or other activities on March 29 to educate their campuses and communities, and to build resistance to the reactionary agenda of social inequality and environmental disregard proposed in the Contract. II. Call for Solidarity Communities across the country are now mobilizing to stop portions of the Contract which would eliminate popular government programs and protections. While local actions may focus on one or two key issues, we are also acting on March 29 to show solidarity with people resisting other parts of the Contract, including those working to: 1. Save student aid and increase funding for education: Newt Gingrich has said that Pell Grants insult students by insinuating that they are too lazy to pay for their college education (Boston Globe, 2/3/94, p. 21). It is estimated that proposed cuts would affect 6 million students and shove as many as 2 million students out of higher education. The Alliance to Save Student Aid (including US Student Association), Student Aid Action of Antioch College, and the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students are building resistance to these measures, and there is a new email discussion focusing on this threat to Education Rights (send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, body "sub can-er firstname lastname"). We call for March 29 actions to save our education. 2. Preserve pro-environmental regulations: The fine print in the "Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act" will gut environmental protections. In response, the Public Interest Research Groups are holding an emergency "Free the Planet" conference from February 24-26 at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. On March 29, speak out for the environment. 3. Protect and extend women's rights: The fine print in the "Taking Back our Streets Act" would repeal the Violence Against Women Act, and while the Contract With America sought to avoid mentioning the divisive abortion issue, Republicans attempted to take funding for the defense of abortion clinics out of the proposed Crime Bill. The National Organization for Women and other women's groups are moving to stop this legislation with a National March on Washington on April 9, 1995. On March 29, rally on your campus for women's rights. 4. Defend the rights of poor people and end poverty: The "Personal Responsibility Act" would impose punitive government restrictions on poor women and their children, as well as recipients of any form of government assistance, by freezing additional benefits for children born on welfare or to mothers under 18, and reducing benefits if paternity is not established. National coalition building by welfare and Civil Rights groups, such as the National Welfare Rights Union, is the leading edge of the resistance to these measures. We call for March 29 actions to stop the attack on welfare mothers, their children, and America's poor. 5. Prevent the scapegoating of immigrants: Proposition 187 in California has already cut off thousands of immigrants from basic survival measures. Proposals contained in the fine print of the "Personal Responsibility Act" would also deny government benefits to "documented" immigrants. An anti-187 movement with participation from hundreds of campuses has sprung up, with coordination coming from the Four Winds Student Movement centered in California and the Swarthmore Coalition Against Xenophobia in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of students are communicating about this organizing. (send email to email@example.com, body "sub 187-l firstname lastname") On March 29, rally against growing racism and nativism. 6. Resist the attacks on gays, lesbians, and bisexuals: Although the Right has attempted to tone down its anti-gay rhetoric during the first 100 days of Republican power in Congress, there is no denying the use of bigotry by those who stand behind the Contract With America. Many candidates who signed the Contract circulated anti-gay videos as part of their campaign, supported anti-gay referenda in places like Colorado and Oregon, and advocated stiff criminal penalties for "homosexual behavior." The National Gay and Lesbian Task force is organizing to challenge these attacks. On March 29, expose the Right's anti-gay agenda. III. The Time to Act is Now We must begin immediately to organize and mobilize in our campuses and our communities to build opposition to the Right's agenda. The CCO has prepared a detailed organizing packet for more detailed suggestions and information on this National Day of Campus Action Against the Contract With America. Joining with others acting simultaneously to resist the Contract will increase national visibility and strengthen our movement of opposition. For schools who cannot act March 29, we are calling for action on March 23. City University of New York, Harvard, MIT, Brown and the University of Hawaii plan to act on this date. We advocate a long-term perspective. Because the Right is well enough organized to even use a defeat of the Contract to its advantage in the '96 elections, it will be necessary for us to do more than try to stop specific bills from passing. It will be necessary to use this debate to inform the public about the anti-democratic nature of the Right's agenda-and about the alliance between big business and fundamentalist religious groups working to seize political power.