Your Voice | Talk of the Campus

The International Affairs Association explains their motivation for hosting the Talk of the Campus panel

· April 24, 2012, 1:24 am   ·  Updated April 24, 2012, 1:36 am

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The International Affairs Association is a Penn student organization charged with the task of fostering dialogue on international and public affairs in the community of Philadelphia and Penn at large.

Taking note of the number of student activists taking part in demonstrations this year, the IAA sought this particular year, 2012, as a time to reflect on what it is Penn students do here to further their causes.

The Academic Affairs branch of this club in particular sought to arrange a panel of student activists to relay their experiences this year at Penn, through demonstration, protest, acts of solidarity and even arrest.

A significant amount of media attention was attracted by the Penn Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference, hosted by PennBDS. Understanding the sheer number of students that were involved in this activity, as well as the dialogue that was surely sparked on campus as a result, the IAA saw fit to feature students who had a role in the event. The IAA as an organization seeks no political agenda and is a nonpartisan organization.

However, the IAA’s mission does concern itself with encouraging conversation. Thus, the IAA had extended invitations to representatives of PennBDS as well as JStreet to speak at this panel about their particular involvement and experiences in this conference.

After further thought, the Executive Board of the IAA decided that the original intent of this panel was no longer being fulfilled. That is to say, the focus of the event grew more toward the controversy surrounding PennBDS and its existence, and began to shy away from the role of activism on Penn’s campus.

By inherently discussing the conference from two angles, the event began to take the shape of a debate about the BDS conference, which we felt was misaligned with the event’s initial goals of exploring student experiences at Penn in 2012, especially for the three other featured panelists. Thus, the IAA felt it was best to remove the topic of PennBDS from this panel, by taking out the viewpoint of any Israeli or Palestinian advocacy group. As well, a representative from The Daily Pennsylvanian will be joining the panel to give a student perspective in journalism during these events. As a result, the following individuals and their respective groups will be present at the panel:

Wharton sophomore Tania Chairez, Co-Founder of Penn for Immigrant Rights
College junior Mak Hussein, President of the Muslim Students Association

College junior Aya Saed, Planning and Facilitating Chair of UMOJA & organizer of the Million Hoodie March (& DP columnist?)
Wharton senior Prameet Kumar, Daily Pennsylvanian, City Politics Beat & Politics Blog Editor

Any questions can be directed to either College senior Zach Stone (zstone@sas.upenn.edu) or College senior Sarah Ahmed (sarahmed@sas.upenn.edu). We look forward to seeing all of you Friday at 12 p.m.!

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