Protestors1_AM_416

AJ MacLean/Herald photo

More than 100 University of Wisconsin students participated in a walkout Thursday, leaving their classes behind to protest the war in Iraq and on-campus recruitment.

Members of various student organizations shared their reasons for why the U.S. should withdraw its forces from Iraq. Fayyad Sbaihat, a UW senior and member of The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, spoke out against the use of ROTC recruiters on campus, linking recent tuition hikes with their increased presence. He added that as tuition continues to increase, students are forced to turn to programs like ROTC in order to afford an education.

“Campuses today are being used as a recruiting ground for those who are unable to afford tuition,” Sbaihat said. “People die to get an education today, and that is not right.”

Jane Jensen, from the Military Families for Peace, discussed the importance of supporting the troops currently in Iraq. Jenson was cut short, hoever, when the police ordered her microphone to be cut mid-sentence.

In response to this action, students began chanting “free speech” until the officers allowed Jenson and the other speakers to continue with the demonstration.

“I was humiliated,” Jensen said later. “It was totally unnecessary.”

Nick Limbeck, a UW sophomore observing the protest, said his interest in the war is twofold: the war in Iraq is unjust and also harms education on campus.

“The government continues to make cuts in education to fund this war in Iraq,” Limbeck said.

Will Williams, with the Veterans for Peace, said that although speaking out against the war may not be easy, it is a necessary action. But, according to Williams, inaction sometimes speaks louder than words.

“Out of fear we do nothing, and when you do nothing you are part of the problem,” Williams said.

Not everyone attending the rally was there to protest the war. Steve Thunander, a member of ProtestWarrior, voiced his own opinions about why the U.S. should stay in Iraq.

“I support the troops in Iraq; I support them finishing the job because I want to make sure they don’t have to go back in there again in another 10 years to clean up this whole mess,” Thunander said.

When the speakers finished, the crowd of protesters took to the streets for an anti-war march.

Stop The War member Stephanie Jung joined the crowd as they marched past the Army recruitment center in University Square.

“We confronted counter-protesters there, chanting back and forth,” Jung said.

The group was forced to leave the Army recruitment center to return to Bascom Hill, where they demanded support from UW Chancellor John Wiley, Jung added.

She said that although Wiley was unavailable for comment, she was able to speak with Wiley’s secretary and ultimately schedule a meeting next Wednesday.

As a result of the protest, an open forum will be held next Wednesday to discuss Military recruitment on campus, Jung said.