At its early afternoon peak Tuesday, an anti-war rally on the steps of Storke Plaza drew the presence and voices of 150 to 200 students, faculty and community members who echoed in unison, “The people united will never be defeated.”
Associated Students President Chrystine Lawson served as the event’s master of ceremonies and led the crowd in cheers and encouragement for their pro-peace efforts. Lawson’s office was not involved in planning the event; the A.S. Student Lobby organized it. The rally featured speakers from various UCSB academic departments and on-campus organizations.
“I’m not here as A.S. President,” Lawson said. “The A.S. Legislative Council has already passed an anti-war resolution. There hasn’t been much discussion on this campus about how war could affect students. I personally believe that war is not in the interest of our students.”
Lawson also said the government is waging a “war on education” by increasing military while cutting education budgets.
“There need to be more events like this on campus,” A.S. Legislative Council Representative- at-Large Fernando Ramirez said. “Lobbying for students’ rights is needed now more than ever with current issues that affect our campus like war in Iraq and fee increases.”
Elena Garcia, co-chair of A.S. Student Lobby, said the group posted fliers to publicize the rally and sent out e-mails to professors they thought would be interested in speaking.
Black studies Professor Otis Madison spoke at the event and received cheers for his statement that the media falsely appropriates language to describe international conflicts like the 1991 Gulf War.
“You can’t have a war when the other side don’t fight,” Madison said.
Other faculty speakers included Eileen Boris from the Women’s Studies Dept. and Diane Fujino from the Asian American Studies Dept.
Fujino provoked strong crowd reaction by demanding “power to the people” and raising her fist in the air.
Student speakers included Nico Pitney from the Student Action Forum on the Middle East, Lizette Gomez from the Muslim Students Association and Alejandro Juarez from the Student Commission on Racial Equality.
Manning Marable, a visiting professor from Columbia University, was scheduled to speak, but his plane was delayed due to bad weather on the East Coast.
Several organizations related to anti-war activities, including Conscientious Objectors to War and their Supports (COS) and Not in Our Name (NON), set up tables outside the UCen where they further stated their case and gathered signatures for anti-war petitions.
COS provides counseling and informational services regarding the military draft and alternatives to military service.
John Tieber, executive director and founder of the local branch of NON, said his organization wants to petition the Santa Barbara City Council to pass a strong resolution against the Patriot Act and related legislation.
“Not in Our Name is a national movement against the USA Patriot Act,” Tieber said. “When we’re ready, we’re going to bring this petition to city officials.”