Students ask: ‘War, what is it good for?’

The College’s Progressive Student Alliance held a speak-out against the war in Iraq on Wednesday, Oct. 18 outside Green Hall. The event featured live performances by students and provided students and faculty members the opportunity to voice their opinions on the war.

Mike Heitmann, senior biomedical engineering major, and Jono De Leon, senior history major, opened the speak-out with acoustic performances of cover songs by Dispatch, Rusted Root and Buffalo Springfield. With bongos and acoustic guitars, the duo performed four songs related to war and encouraged the crowd to sing along.

“Please don’t boo us if we mess up,” Heitmann joked.

A microphone was set at the bottom of Green Hall’s stairway and the crowd was encouraged to share thoughts on the war.

Allen Dawley, professor of history, spoke first, calling the war “a colossal failure.” He noted that the College’s first event regarding the war in Iraq predicted the war as disastrous even before it had started. He, like many of the speakers, felt that troops should withdraw from Iraq immediately.

Elaine Hood, junior psychology major, shared her anger about the United States government’s justification of the war. Originally, the United States invaded Iraq because they allegedly possessed weapons of mass destruction. Hood was angry that the United States is still fighting even though the weapons were never found.

“I don’t think this war can be justified by any means,” she said.

Janet Morrison, associate professor of biology, didn’t plan to speak in front of the crowd, but decided to offer her thoughts from an accurate, scientific perspective. Morrison said that the United States claims two illegitimate reasons for the war with Iraq: Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and the country’s connection with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She considers these poor reasons for a war because no weapons of mass destruction were found. The connection between Sept. 11 and Iraq, she said, is “also a complete fantasy.”

Jessica Knoll, junior philosophy major, stopped following the war because of her disgust with the media. She feels too much hype and too little progress make war coverage uninteresting.

“The media seems to place a lot (of emphasis) on shock value,” she said.

Joanne Gross, chairwoman of the College’s history department, encouraged students to vote and spoke out against “Islamophobia.” She recited the poem “The Sound of Leaves,” written by Bangladesh peace activist Razia Hussain.

Students were passionate about the war and displayed their dedication with shirts reading “US out of Iraq,” and “My friends went to Iraq to look for weapons of mass destruction and all they found was this lousy t-shirt.” The student and faculty speakers proved their knowledge with informed opinions, facts, quotes and poems.

Despite the hookah smoking and classic rock T-shirts, the speak-out wasn’t a convention for angry hippie kids; it was an event to raise awareness by making good points and good music.