“To our military: be ready. The hour will come for you to act and you will make us proud.”
These are the words President George W. Bush told the Congress last night. He called the U.S. and other nations to service, he cited NATO’s charter to emphasis that “an attack on one is an attack on all,” and he urged Americans to avoid “singling out on the basis of religious background.”
But yesterday, Cornell joined over 140 colleges and universities across the country that had organized in solidarity for a “peaceful justice” removed from military action. The pro-peace events, which included various combinations of rallies, vigils, marches and teach-ins, all took place around noon and received national media attention.
Students at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. began organizing the peace effort just after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center last week. They enlisted the cooperation of other campuses nationwide to get the attention of the President to express opposition to “retaliatory violence.”
“We should work on a peaceful solution as opposed to continuing the global cycle of violence … we shouldn’t answer the deaths of thousands of innocent people with more deaths of innocent people,” Harvard University student Jessica Gould told ABC News. Gould, a sophomore, participated in Harvard’s rally, which involved a peace march in Boston, Mass.
Ho Plaza was the site of Cornell’s rally, which also involved a peace march of approximately 125 students throughout campus, according to Dana Brown ’02, one of the event organizers. Community members spoke to an estimated one hundred people who participated in the activities — some on their way to class, some skipping class to be part of the rally despite the rain.
“A substantial amount of students were present and it seemed like each person stayed for the entire time. We had a variety of powerful speakers and each one presented crucial insights and an emotive reaction to the present circumstances,” said Lindsay Kaplan ’02, who had addressed the crowd earlier.
Students also tabled on Ho Plaza to post contact information for their local political leaders. Brown also noted that the group provided stamped postcards for students to write messages to their representatives. During the course of the day, about 125 postcards were handwritten and the group plans to provide additional cards today in the lobby of Willard Straight Hall, according to Brown.
“People have responded so positively. I just hope Bush is listening,” Brown said of Cornell’s efforts.
Brown also noted that members of both the activist and non-activist communities were present, sitting in Ho Plaza, as another group sold flowers to benefit the relief effort.
“It was good because there were people that you don’t typically see — not everyone was necessarily part of the activist community. It was nice to see people coming out of the woodwork,” Brown said.
“I think it’s good to see a lot of people out here. It’s good to see all the different faces … it seems to be a pretty diverse crowd. I like the different creative approaches people are taking [with displays of peace],” said Kimberly Webster ’03, who attended the demonstration.
Members of the faculty as well as students presented their opinions at the rally.
“Most of the faculty has been really supportive of a peaceful solution,” said Lindsey Saunders ’03, one of the event planners. Saunders said she felt that faculty members at the University teach-in, which occurred at the beginning of the week, seemed to be “advocating justice rather than anger and revenge.”
“Non-violence must be the answer,” said Prof. Shawkat M. Toorawa, Near Eastern studies. “We have to resist the urge for military violence.”
Toorawa also presented a speech at the teach-in on Monday.
“As a nation we are more hurt and confused than we have ever been in our history. It is not a time for blind retaliation, this is far too dangerous a situation. It is a time for thought and evaluation, a time to contemplate what justice is … we simply cannot achieve justice while angry … if you want justice, work for peace,” Kaplan said in her speech yesterday.
Brown said she felt that the rally was a “fantastic success” and that response was positive.
“I didn’t really see anyone outwardly opposed to us … it was really inspiring to see people flood out,” she said.
“I understand that there is a time and a place for non-violence but I also understand that in certain instances you need to defend yourself and if you don’t make those who are responsible pay in some way, you are encouraging further violence because you are going to be seen as weak. If you commit something wrong you better be willing to accept responsibility for it,” said Amber Massa ’02.
However most students said they felt that the dialogue on campus was imperative in the wake of the national tragedy.
“I think that to have this rally is necessary because the [media] is really for war. A lot of people don’t understand the foreign policy behind this, a lot of speakers have touched on that, and it’s really important that people understand why this happened. Overall, I think it’s great,” Tomer Malchi ’03 said.
Carlos Perkins contributed to this article.
Archived article by Alison Thomas