Mount Allison alumna Eva Bartlett (‘03) delivered a poignant presentation to a crowd of over seventy about her experience living in the Gaza Strip. Bartlett has spent a number of years in the occupied territory as a freelance journalist and activist with the International Solidarity Movement. The Monday event marked the first of the year hosted by the Centre for International Studies (CIS).
“An event like this is unique because you get a perspective from someone who has been on the ground in a location that most of us haven’t the chance to visit,” said Associate Professor Dave Thomas of the Department of Politics and International Relations.
At the event, Bartlett described her close encounters with Israeli military forces and the daily suffering of Palestinians. Bartlett urged Mt. A students to be well read in current events and to fight for justice.
“You may encounter people that don’t like your opinions, or slander you, but if you believe in justice, then it is critical to speak up,” Bartlett said.
Despite the manner in which Bartlett has contributed to the global community, her time at Mt. A was different. As a student, Bartlett, who studied music, said she was not aware of current global issues or events. CIS leadership aims to address this issue among current students.
“There is so much academic discussion on campus, and we kind of get stuck within that academic mentality,” said Natalie Brunet, a CIS co-coordinator.
According to its website, the CIS “is an organization designed to engage [Mt. A] students, faculty, and the wider community across disciplines in critical learning dialogue, and innovative, collaborative action on pressing global issues.”
The CIS started as a two-year pilot program through alumni donation in 2010. Once the funding ended, the CIS was forced to find new, consistent funding. Last year, MASU passed a referendum granting a five-dollar levy per full-time student.
“If you are a member of the students’ union, you are a member of the CIS,” Becky Lockert, a CIS co-coordinator, said.
The slogan of the CIS is “Academics in Action,” claiming that the knowledge we acquire in classes is most valuable when put to use.
“One of the real goals [at Mt. A] is that what you are learning in class has some impact on how you engage with the world,” he said.
Throughout the year, the CIS plans to host multiple events similar to Bartlett’s presentation as well as group discussions. It will also aid the creation of working groups for those who wish to act on specific issues.
“Being in university is extremely engaging, and makes you start to potentially realize what is happening in the world; however, it doesn’t necessarily give you a pathway on how to change what you see or how you act on what you see,” Brunet said. “The CIS hopes to offer those pathways.”
The CIS has also recently launched a new website at http://cistmta.ca, and a Twitter account, @CISMTA, which they encourage students to follow.
To follow Eva Bartlett’s work and activism, visit her blog, In Gaza, at http://ingaza.wordpress.com