Students should care about summits

By Brianna Wellen

The news of the G-8 and NATO summits coming to Chicago sent Columbia into a panic. The thought of protests and demonstrations against global superpowers coinciding with our commencement caused college administrators to rearrange the entire spring semester. After Columbia students recover from the initial shock that comes with spring break being threatened, I can only hope they’ll realize the significance of the events happening in our own backyard.

Next year marks the first time either conference has been held in Chicago, only the second time both conferences will be held in the same city simultaneously, the third time NATO’s summit has taken place on American soil and the sixth G-8 summit to take place in the U.S. during the course of nearly 40 years. It’s safe to say this is a unique occurrence, and students shouldn’t squander their opportunity to be a part of a historic global event.

A group called Students for a Democratic Society is already putting out calls to youth in the city to join them in a massive protest against the alleged war crimes of certain world representatives present.

While not everyone has to have an extreme opinion toward these global summits, this is an example of how students are already getting involved. Because the decision to host both conferences was made so far in advance, it gives students time to research, prepare and decide to what extent they can be involved.

Demonstrations in response to the summits don’t all have to be critical or negative. They can instead put a call to action to the world leaders on issues important in the eyes of students or be a positive reinforcement to issues being discussed. Even peaceful gatherings among students to discuss and decipher the happenings of the conferences would be a simple and easy way to keep on top of the summits.

Our generation is more connected to global issues than generations past; the Internet brings us information in a moment’s notice about events halfway across the world. This gives us ample time to learn about events that will be discussed by world leaders mere miles away in

May 2012.

It is irresponsible for the youth in Chicago to ignore the summits and surrounding events, discussions and reactions, whether we are still in our spring semester or not. In the years to come, it seems more meaningful to tell the tale of being there for the riots and demonstrations surrounding global summits than to complain about a shortened winter break.