News Brief: Colleges organize to protest war

Students at Wesleyan University in Connecticut are organizing a nationwide effort to promote a peaceful response to last week’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

One hundred five colleges and universities plan coordinate their own demonstrations at the same time Sept. 20. This effort, called Peaceful Justice, is a protest of expected military strikes by the United States in retaliation to the attacks.

President George W. Bush has said the United States will punish those responsible and any country that knowingly harbors terrorists. Eight Middle Eastern countries have been named as possible targets, with Afghanistan as the main focus.

Peaceful Justice organizers denounce the plan of retaliatory violence and call for those responsible to be brought to justice through legal channels.

Wesleyan organizers plan for “an hour of solidarity” Thursday between noon and 1 p.m., according to its Web site. Participants are encouraged to sign petitions, march to their representative offices and educate others.

“The national day of action was initiated by a group of Wesleyan students, but student leaders at many campuses are coordinating their own actions,” Peaceful Justice spokeswoman Sarah Norr wrote in an e-mail.

Norr said more than 100 students at Wesleyan are involved in the movement. Peaceful Justice also calls for “the United States government to examine its role in the complex international history leading up to this tragedy in order for the nation to effectively heal and prevent further violence” in its suggested petition.

The organization held a vigil outside of the Wesleyan library Sept. 17 featuring speakers and music before starting a 20-minute silent vigil.

“The best way to honor the victims of terrorism is to make sure that no more innocent people die,” said Alex Okrent, who helped to plan the vigil.

“Martin Luther King said that returning hate for hate multiplies hate,” student organizer Jen Barkan said. “Vengeance won’t stop terrorism – it will only fuel the anger that leads to acts like these.”

No group at GW had contacted Peaceful Justice as of Tuesday about participation. Georgetown University is listed as a participant.

-Erin Gamble

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