In the tumultuous times we are experiencing, it may sometimes feel like there is no way to make a difference in the world. However, college students all over the U.S. are turning to membership in various organizations to get involved in changing policies and spreading awareness of the many issues that impact our world. One such organization that is new to the Brandeis campus is the Dissenters Movement, initiated by two Brandeis students.
Sarah Arthi Jacob ’21, an economics major and legal studies and philosophy minor, and Ellie Kleiman ’21, an anthropology and International and Global Studies major and a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor, are the founders of the Dissenters chapter at Brandeis.
Dissenters is a new national anti-war youth movement that was started by “seasoned organizers of color from across the country who work in prison abolition, anti-policing efforts and anti-occupation activism,” explained Jacob to The Brandeis Hoot in an email. The movement aims to unite strategies and values into “a cohesive movement to stop ‘endless war’ and militarism which first and foremost affects communities of color in the U.S. and around the world.”
According to the Dissenters website, the national movement organization is “leading our generation to reclaim our resources from the war industry, reinvest in life-giving institutions, and repair collaborative relationships with the earth and people around the world.”
Jacob wrote that on campuses, the movement aims to push universities to divest from the war industry and companies that may profit, such as “Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Boeing which profit most off of the wars waged on so many countries and communities.” The Dissenters website further states that its mission is to build local teams of young students to “force our elected officials and institutions to divest from war and militarism, and reinvest in what our communities actually need. From campuses to congress, we are building grassroots power to cut off war elites once and for all.”
Over the winter break, Jacob and Kleiman traveled to Chicago and participated in a training hosted by Dissenters. There, they “received skills and resources to bring the movement on our campus,” said Jacob.
College students from all across the U.S. applied to participate in this training, and over 40 gathered to train, ready to return to their respective campuses and launch chapters of Dissenters. Jacob and Kleiman are “facilitating the launch of this movement on Brandeis’s campus and in the Boston area alongside other students and people who are interested in this work.”
Jacob and Kleiman were originally introduced to the application for the training session when it was posted online by an organizer of another group, Movimiento Cosecha, “a nonviolent movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all immigrants,” according to its website.
“Participating in the training was one of the most inspiring and empowering experiences of my life. Being with so many passionate and genuinely incredible organizers of color really makes me believe that we can achieve the goals of distributive, restorative, and racial justice together,” said Jacob of the experience in Chicago, and hopes to create a similar supportive and passionate community at Brandeis.
“I learned a lot about different movements across the country and how achievable a lot of these goals are, should countries like the United States change priorities from Western Imperialism to investing in its own people, especially the people of color living here.”
Jacob believes that the Dissenters movement is an important addition to the Brandeis campus, because Brandeis is “a hub of recruitment into defense companies,” according to Jacob. “Brandeis also undoubtedly has ties to defense companies, occupation efforts abroad, and heavy policing in Waltham and the campus itself that disproportionately affects Black and Brown folks,” wrote Jacob to The Hoot. If the Dissenters movement and campaign can succeed at Brandeis, Jacob said, there will be divestment from the aforementioned issues.
If students are interested in joining the Dissenters chapter at Brandeis, they can contact Jacob directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first Dissenters meeting took place on Jan. 21, which aimed to share resources and skills with other students so “together we can organize against the war profiteers on our campus and radically be in community with each other,” as was stated on the Facebook event created for the meeting. According to Jacob, the group will soon begin to meet on a regular basis, so there is still plenty of time to get involved. If you would like to learn more, you may also visit the official website for the organization, wearedissenters.org.