While most politically active students on campus spent the waning hours of Election Day campaigning for their respective candidates, the College chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) put together a non-partisan display advocating an important topic that is often overshadowed by debates on state spending and the minimum wage.
The display, titled “Walk In Their Shoes,” was led by Kait Boyle, president of the College’s NOW chapter and senior sociology and women’s and gender studies major, and Kari Osmond, sophomore women’s and gender studies major. The students placed pairs of shoes, which represented the thousands of soldiers and civilians killed in the Iraq War, on the Sundial Lawn from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 7.
“The theme of the event was for voters to keep Iraq in mind on Election Day,” Osmond said. “We weren’t encouraging a vote for any specific candidate. We were simply encouraging voters to vote for peace.”
Boyle thought that the display had a positive effect on the popular vote in Tuesday’s election.
“Headline after headline in the news (was) about how Iraq was on people’s minds as they entered the voting booths,” Boyle said. “America’s dissatisfaction with the war and the administration had a great bearing on the election, which I definitely think had an effect on the outcome of more peace advocates being elected and the Democrats winning the House and the Senate.”
Boyle proceeded to list some of the staggering death tolls stemming from the Iraq War, which began in 2003 under the military title of Operation: Iraqi Freedom.
“I was proud that I had created a demonstration that would remind students, faculty and Ewing citizens to keep the 2,800 soldiers killed, 50,000 injured, and over 600,000 Iraqis killed since 2003 in mind when voting,” Boyle said.
Boyle and Osmond were inspired to create “Walk In Their Shoes” display when they received a press release from CODEPink, a national grassroots women’s rights organization that is dedicated to peace and bringing an end to the war in Iraq.
“CODEPink is an incredible organization,” Boyle said. “The ‘Walk In Their Shoes’ idea was somewhat last minute. However, in the spring, I am planning on trying to get a member of CODEPink to come speak at the College, and I want to include progressive students from neighboring institutions.”
While most students were pleased with, or at the very least intrigued by, Boyle and Osmond’s demonstration, the politically-savvy duo did face some minor opposition throughout the day.
“I did have to leave the demonstration to go to class for two hours and when I came back ‘Bob Menendez is an Asshole’ was chalked in front of my display,” Boyle said. “It didn’t really anger me, but it reminded me why I created a nonpartisan display that had nothing to do with particular candidates or parties.”
Despite the minor nuisance, Boyle was pleased with the way the display went over. Along with Osmond, she is already planning future demonstrations and awareness campaigns.
“I was really excited at all the feedback I got and immensely glad I spent the week collecting shoes. We had over 170 shoes, over 100 of which are being donated to the Salvation Army in Trenton,” Boyle said.