While Washington makes plans for a “new war” to punish those associated with last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, campuses across the country are preparing for the worst.
Already, at schools such as the University of California-Berkeley and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, student activist groups have organized peace rallies to pressure the U.S. government to enter into negotiations without resorting to violence. Students and community members of Madison are following the same lead.
At a peace rally Monday night, around 500 UW students and faculty members protested American foreign policy, and begged Washington to remember innocent civilians in Afghanistan and other countries deemed a threat by President Bush.
“The two main messages of today’s gathering are that a military response will serve to kill more innocents and ensure the continuation of the cycle of violence,” Allen Ruff, the event’s organizer and a member of Jews for Equal Justice, told the crowd at Library Mall.
Ruff’s group, and around 14 other campus and community organizations, will continue the discussion of foreign policy and war in other events slated for the next week.
Wednesday night, in Memorial Union, campus group U.S. Out Now will host a meeting attempting to push for anti-U.S. intervention overseas.
“We are meeting to talk about further peace-organizing efforts,” said one of the group's organizers, Rae Vogeler. Wednesday’s meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in Room 360 of Science Hall.
The group will also join its counterpart organizations throughout the city and campus in a “tent encampment.”
The tent encampment, titled “Nations Under Siege,” will be a day-long session on Library Mall to bring attention to the plight of foreign civilians affected by American foreign policy.
“It’s so the American public knows the role of American policy in the world,” Vogeler said. “Most people don’t often know what we’re doing.”
Vogeler said the purpose of their encampment stretches far beyond potential war in Afghanistan.
She named a number of arenas, from Iraqi sanctions to the economic woes of Palestinians, in which the organizations will re-enact on Library Mall, complete with makeshift tents and information sessions.
Hopefully, Vogeler said, the tent encampment will “bring to light the suffering of civilian populations under siege around the world.”
From 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday, the coalition will simulate these populations living under siege.
UW is not the only school actively participating in peace rallies and protests.
At Berkeley Monday night, 200 students met and established three goals for a new organization: to stop war, to defend minority targets of scapegoating and to defend civil liberties.
The Berkeley group, called the Stop the War Coalition, is continuing to table the campus and hold rallies, and students are responding.
At a panel titled “Understanding the Attack on America,” students, administrators and faculty of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill spoke out against U.S. military action.