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Joining the fight against the IMF

Several University students joined thousands of demonstrators from across the country in Washington, D.C., this weekend, to protest world financial meetings in the nation's capital.

Most of the students went with the Democratic Left, a campus group devoted to working for liberal causes. The protests were directed mainly at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.


"The reason I'm going down is to hold [the IMF] democratically accountable," Albert Palma GS, a member of the Democratic Left, said before leaving for the demonstration Thursday. Palma said he believes the IMF uses criteria to determine funding that are "based on a limited view of human activity."

"I think it's important that people are concerned about international environmental policy," said Elliot Ratzman GS, who was one of the founding members of the Democratic Left. Ratzman said he also hoped to raise awareness of the methods international financial institutions use to reach their stated goals.

Federal and local police in Washington went to great lengths to secure the downtown area in anticipation of this weekend's protests. There were reports of some isolated violence, but the protests were far less confrontational than those during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle this past fall.

"I didn't see much of the illegal protest," Monica Parikh, a graduate student who attended the demonstration over the weekend, said yesterday. "But it was much more non-violent than Seattle."

The Democratic Left, which was founded early this semester, is a group of mostly University graduate students. The Washington protest was its first official event, but members of the group say they hope to adopt more issues in the future, Parikh said.

Some of the members of the group said they had difficulty recruiting undergraduates to join their efforts. "I think we have a hard core of about 20 [members]," Ratzman said, explaining that the group's e-mail list includes many more names.


Palma said he believes Princeton students are not interested in political activism because of their socioeconomic status and because liberal attitudes are not conventional at the University. "My friends at other Ivies have found students much more interested in [liberal politics]," he said. "I think it's more accepted to have a conservative ideology [at Princeton]."

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