As President Bush and the White House put more pressure on Congress to permit military action against Iraq, and as leaders on Capitol Hill move closer to passing a resolution giving consent to such action, some students are concerned about a lack of engagement in anti-war and pro-war movements.
“I think Palestine was a bigger issue last semester because of the suicide attacks. Iraq has been a threat for a long time, like 10 or 15 years, and so what’s going on now doesn’t hit people. I think there will be more student involvement after there is bloodshed,” LSA sophomore Nida Dada said.
In the past, students at the University staged protests and movements after governmental action took place. For example, in 1965, after U.S. involvement in Vietnam escalated, the first anti-war protest on a college campus occurred at the University in the form of a teach-in.
In most instances, these movements were formed by student organizations such as the Students for a Democratic Society, which was founded at the University.
“Discussions about war should take place in an appropriate forum such as in the Senate,” LSA senior Albert Sheng said.
“I don’t think it is constructive for people to take to the streets and stand under a banner in one-sided protests. I would like to see more academic symposiums and informed debates though.”
“Protests will occur depending on how the war goes. If the war goes well, there will definitely be less protests but if it goes poorly, there will be more,” he added. Although there has been talk about going to war with Iraq, many students are waiting for Congress to act before acting themselves.
“I hear stuff about Iraq from students but I think that there will be more movements in the future, depending on how debates in Congress go,” LSA junior Brian Polk said. “There will definitely be more student action if we do go to war. I want to see more open dialogue though.”
“There will be movements when serious stuff happens and people see results,” LSA junior Hussain Rahin said.
“There will definitely be a lot more protests if a war with Iraq drags on like Vietnam,” he added.
Some students believe a lack of activism among student groups is why there appears to be little dialogue about war on campus. “With Palestine, there were a lot of rallies held by Palestinians or the Muslim Students Association,” Dada said. “There were lots of e-mails, protests, and stuff on the Diag. I don’t think there will be that many rallies with Iraq because there are less students from Iraq or at least it seems like it.”
“I noticed the preacher on the Diag but little else. Given the liberalism here, I would expect more information or protests. I think in the future, more Islamic members will protest,” LSA graduate student Maria Kalli said.
For many, academics remain a top priority for many students.
“I think not much is happening on campus because of midterms,” Polk added.