Dioxin Dorms is published by Planet Waves as a service to students and families of students at SUNY New Paltz, and to the movement for environmental justice. This is our mission statement.
Dioxin Dorms is published by Planet Waves.
Never EVER trust government or any official to protect you from harm that benefits others. If you do make this mistake, what you will learn to your sorrow is that if there are profits to be made or liability to be avoided, decision-makers will always and invariably act on behalf of the profiteers. Particularly with regard to toxic exposures, their decisions will be made by weighing the risks to you against the benefits to them of allowing such exposure. Necessarily, the first step in such risk/benefit analysis is to conceal, minimize, or deny the risk element, because what decision-makers fear most and will do anything to avoid is having those who bear the risks assert their right to know about and to avoid that exposure.  

The most important role of activists, therefore, is to inform those who bear the risks about their rights. Contrary to popular belief, the most powerful elements in our society are not CEOs or celebrities or government decision-makers, but ordinary, garden-variety people – housewives, students, bus drivers, plumbers, nurses, etc. Individually, none have any power at all, but together they are invincible, and the single most powerful incentive to bring them together is a common threat. The common threat to SUNY students is two fold: first, the threat of exposure to compounds that compromise immune systems, cause cancer, and have multi-generational effects; and second, the threat of ceding their rights to know about and to avoid the risk of exposure.

Conclusion: Forget convincing officials of anything. Convince the students – those who bear the risks – that their right to know and their right to say no are at stake. And then help them warm the tar and gather feathers.
-- Carol van Strum
Eric's environmental journalism mentor in Oregon. She is the author of A Bitter Fog: Herbicides and Human Rights, and is a veteran of many citizen environmental struggles.

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