Courtesy of Gwen Ashworth
The DePaul chapter of Dissenters — a national campaign calling for the end of U.S. militarism — held its first event, “Militarism 101,” on Friday to inform members on how militarism relates to the cause of their organization.
Dissenters promotes the U.S. ending war in other countries and reinvesting the military budget to other social programs. Chapters are present in universities all over the nation.
“Dissenters are leading a new generation of young people to reclaim our resources from the war industry, reinvest in life-giving services, and repair collaborative relationships with the earth and people around the world,” the “We Are Dissenters” organization website reads.
Freshmen Gwen Ashworth and Maria Mosquera, sophomore Citlali Perez and senior Hailey Halcomb are the four founding members of the chapter.
“We are all in different years and have different backgrounds in organizing, some newer than others,” Ashworth said. “One of the values that Dissenters goes by is to lead by creating new leaders, so that’s what we hope to do as we grow.”
Ashworth added one of the founding members has been working with the Dissenters since the beginning of 2020, but met other members at a training session last fall where they continued their efforts to build a DePaul chapter.
“Being a freshman, I didn’t necessarily know what history DePaul had in regards to supporting U.S. imperialism,” Ashworth said. “Learning more about it, there is a lot of work to do. This motivated us to make the chapter due to DePaul’s track record and issues that the university still has in supporting Zionists, the Chicago Police Department, Fraternal Order of Police and weapons manufacturers.”
Dissenters not only promotes the end of war, but also aims to foster a sense of community and connection between its members.
Ashworth said the group hasn’t gone through the process to become an official on-campus organization yet.
“We don’t have a faculty advisor, but we hope to gain the support of staff at DePaul who share similar values as Dissenters as an abolitionist organization,” Ashworth said.
Due to the pandemic and remote learning, Ashworth said she struggled to find activities to join at DePaul.
“I’m grateful to be a part of Dissenters because it was hard to get involved with activities last quarter,” Ashworth said.
To prepare for the chapter’s first event, the Dissenters had to complete a training led by its umbrella organization, We Are Dissenters. The event was styled as a teach-in and workshop for attendees to interact with the DePaul Dissenters
The event’s facilitators covered the basics of militarism, the billions of dollars that go into the military budget, the leading companies that manufacture weapons and military operations, and how the US has become more involved with attacks over the past eight years.
“The U.S. spends the most money on their military in the world,” Halcomb said. “This [money could] be used for other social programs [such as] lowering tuition, gender-affirming surgeries, nonprofits, basic income, mental health services, ending hunger and homelessness.”
“I think that it was super helpful because not all of us came in knowing what militarism was and how it relates,” Perez said.
In the future, DePaul Dissenters hopes to lead a successful dissent campaign in the DePaul community. Halcomb said they would like to see DePaul end its contracts or affiliation with any company that contributes to military operations or other war related aspects.
“It’s my goal to lead a success campaign because there may be people at DePaul, like in the Board of Trustees or DePaul itself, that contribute to companies that manufacture military weapons,” Halcomb said.
“The development of Dissenters, along with the connections made with other organizations at our university, will be essential to speaking about these concerns and coordinating actions to challenge the vitality of the issues,” Ashworth said.