|As the second year of Thread begins, The Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) conference and the upcoming presidential election have energized political debate on Duke’s campus to a level not often seen this far south. The narrow and misplaced debate over academic freedom of last year has morphed into a complex conversation about the real need to promote freedom of expression while at the same time protecting people from hate speech. In the case of the PSM Conference especially, this debate has been confused by sensationalist propaganda that is often presented unchallenged in media, whether local or otherwise. (It is this discourse at which our cover pokes fun.)
Most people on campus, however, including the Duke administration, the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, the Duke Israel Initiative, Campus Council, and DSG (barely), have come out in support of the right of Duke students to hold the conference in the name of academic freedom and free speech. The tension between those of differing opinions is clear, but the understanding and respect that most on campus have shown each other in spite of their disagreements has undoubtedly strengthened our community. The questions we have been able to explore as a result of this conference and the controversy around it has undoubtedly improved our collective knowledge of the Palestine/Israel conflict, its effect on the people of the Middle East, and its connection to people around the world.
This first issue of the second volume of Thread explores different views on the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference and the resulting debate on activism and the academy. We chose to focus on one of the many threads in the ongoing campus debate: the question of whether the PSM conference can serve as a vehicle for both academic debate and political organizing. Members of Thread interviewed several instructors at Duke to explore how they negotiate the relationship between their political involvement and their work in academia. You can find these interviews on pages 4-7.
In this issue we also celebrate the victory of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in a five-year struggle for fair wages and working conditions for laborers on farms growing pickles for the Mt. Olive Pickle Company! An in-depth article that begins on page 3 puts this struggle into the larger context of the situation of migrant workers across North Carolina. With the Mt. Olive Pickle boycott behind us, Duke Students against Sweatshops can concentrate its energy on putting pressure on Angelica Laundry (newly installed as the result of outsourcing by the Duke Health System) to treat workers fairly here in their Durham plant and around the country. A timeline on page 7 chronicles the life of this campaign so far at Duke. For more information on the Angelica campaign nationwide, visit www.thedirtylaundry.org.
Welcome again to Thread’s second year! We hope that we can continue to be a voice for the progressive community at Duke this year and beyond and that you will consider contributing your work or joining the Thread Collective to continue producing Thread year after year.