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SESPA at the Eastern Psychological Association Meeting
by The Editorial Collective
Although the Eastern Psychological Association’s meetings at the end of April preceded the newest major escalation of the war in Southeast Asia, we had decided to concentrate our small forces around the war issue, despite other pressing psychological issues. Our focus was on generating debate around two anti-war resolutions, showing the NARMIC slide show on the automated battlefield continuously, and collecting for medical aid to Indochina.
We held up Roger Brown’s presidential address for over an hour by forcing the debate over resolutions condemning the war and ousting EPA members directly engaged in activities supporting the war effort. We also supported debate over the gay liberation movement’s demands at the same business meeting.
On the first day, we moved the SESPA table directly in front of the army’s booth among advertisers and, despite repeated threats from various levels of authority, maintained that position until closing, talking to many people and collecting medical aid funds. Other locations were used the next two days; our collection totalling $450.00 for medical aid. We also sold $60.00 of SESPA literature.
The NARMIC slide show (American Friends Service Committee) is an excellent organizing tool for science meetings of all kinds. We stressed the psychological aspects of the military’s goals and thus made it clear how relevant the issue was, since we had been told (what’s new?) that the war is irrelevant to the profession!
On the whole, we felt that the tactics of changing locations, continuous slide shows, and involving people through donations were successful in reaching large numbers of people. Our efforts at generating debate in symposium sessions on high school psychology teaching (an APA “Master Plan” of “Modules” which kids can be “put through efficiently”) and radical psychology (radical changes in management procedures for better control of people) were less successful, as we encountered distressingly apathetic audiences and intensely hostile panels, who actively squelched debate. This situation seemed to reflect the effects of the big stick on professionals who have dared to consider the political aspects of their professions in recent years, and suggests that we will have to develop new ways to reach and encourage them.