Tens of thousands of people in New York, San Francisco and East Lansing joined millions worldwide to protest war against Iraq Saturday.
Two University students were among the 257 protesters arrested at the New York City rally.
The protests come at a time when issues of national security, U.S. relations with Iraq and heightened terror alerts are some of the most controversial topics on campus.
Anti-War Action! member Max Sussman, an LSA sophomore, tied the war against Iraq to the war on terror. “Further aggression by the U.S. in Iraq and around the world will lead to more terror alerts like this because U.S. aggression abroad increases animosity,” he said.
LSA freshman Gabi Strasfogel, an AWA! protester arrested at the New York City rally, said she felt the heightened terror level affected the protest. “I think (the police) were using the code orange to scare us and make us back down from what we believe in,” she said.
Strasfogel and Music freshman Sarah Herard were arrested for obstructing traffic and recieved misdemeanor charges.
But Herard said she was engaging in civil disobedience. “The punishment does not matter. I see that there’s a lot of policy in the U.S. that needs to be changed and a lot of apathetic people,” she said. “We get a lot more media attention when we break the law.”
Other students disagreed with the anti-war protests.
“I think the real thing we should be worried about is not the administration’s path but Iraq’s non-compliance (with weapons agreements after the Gulf War),” LSA junior Eli Segall said.
“Saddam has murdered over a 100,000 of his own civilians,” Segall said. LSA freshman Paul Teske echoed Segall, saying America has an obligation to help Iraqi citizens living in inhumane conditions under Saddam’s rule.
Some students opposed military action without the support of American allies. “If we go against the U.N. and attack, we’re going to make a lot of enemies and further the cause of terror,” LSA sophomore Leslie Deckter said. “If our allies are not backing this war, there’s probably a good reason.”
Strasfogel said she felt the war would be inhumane.
“I feel that bombing innocent people is wrong, considering the (Afghanistan) war we had where we really destroyed a country,” she said. Herard pointed out that a war would cause loss of civilian life and displace Iraqi citizens.
But Teske said there was clear justification for a war on Iraq. “When (Secretary of State) Colin Powell came out and showed pictures of where the chemical weapons sites were, that’s enough evidence,” he said.
“I feel like there’s enough evidence, that we have reason to go in there and fight. But we should have U.N. backing.” He added it would be easier to win a war against Iraq with world support.
Other students said they were overwhelmed at the idea of war. “Everything’s on the brink of happening but nothing’s taking place,” said Adrienne Klum, an Art and Design junior. “It’s all just so confusing right now.”