Campus activists block intersection

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By Jared Klaus
March 20, 2003
The Post (Athens, Ohio)

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[Editor’s note, 2/23/13 — Readers of my site will surely see that I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing The Post. However, I’m also happy to point out when the Ohio University student newspaper is at its best — as was certainly the case in its March 20, 2003 edition. That day, The Post followed a front page headline announcing the U.S. attack on Iraq with four separate stories on different aspects of local anti-war activities, one on protests in Washington, D.C., an article on OU professors’ opinions of the war, a piece on students whose opinions on the war were either supportive or conflicted, an article presenting the positions of Ohio Congressional representatives on the war and more. All things considered, The Post did an excellent job providing relatively in-depth local context to a story of international importance. It is likely that some prior and subsequent editors and writers of the newspaper would not have handled the matter so well. However, in terms of its handling of this issue, The Post’s staff in the spring of 2003 gave an exemplary performance.]

Ohio University students waved anti-war signs, slammed President Bush, and were among 39 people arrested, bound with zipcord handcuffs, and piled into a bus-turned-paddywagon amid cheers of “No blood for oil.”

As the intersection of Court and Union Streets was closed, it became obvious an anti-war sentiment was in the sage scented air among students. The festivities began at noon yesterday with an anti-war rally in front of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium and finished two hours later.

Rich Thompson, an organic farmer from Athens County and member of People for Peace and Justice, planned the event.

“I’m against the war because of my compassion for the people of Iraq,” he said in an interview. “They are the ones who will suffer the most.”

Aaron Carter, an OU graduate student and member of Ohio University Students Against the War; also spoke at the rally, appealing to students to become active in politics.

“It is up to us to address the issues of poverty, education and conservation that Bush has ignored in his rush to war,” Carter said.

OU Students Against the War circulated a petition at the rally to be sent to Sens. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and GeorgeVoinovich, n-Onio, and Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon.

The petition challenged the congressmen to provide the student organization with a written statement detailing the economic effects of a war with Iraq on Ohio, where budget cuts already have taken their toll. The statement would then be used in a panel discussion hosted by the group on April 9.

Jaylynne Hutchinson, OU professor of cultural studies in education also spoke at the rally. Hutchinson accused President Bush of going against the will of the U.S. people and wanting to establish a “corporate oil state” in Iraq.

In an interview later, Hutchinson said that it is important to take part in demonstrations, even as military action against Iraq seems inevitable.

‘With continual pressure from people in democracies all over, we can shorten the length of the war,” she said. “We all want to bring our troops home safe.”

Also featured at the rally was a skit from The Guerrilla Affinity Theater Group. In the skit, Bush and Saddam Hussein battled to the death, as “Iraqi children” died in the background. Although its message was serious, the play also poked fun at Bush’s spotty syntactical history.

“We have come to expel terroristical leadership,” said the man in the Bush mask.

After the rally in front of Mem Aud, demonstrators marched through the streets of Athens.

Robert Whealey, OU associate professor emeritus of history and member of Veterans for Peace, was among the marchers.

“I have seen that war is essentially politics,” he said. ‘The military machine ought to ask questions of why they join and why they are fighting.”

Dean of Students Terry Hogan said that the war would have an effect on the atmosphere at OU.

“Conversations in classrooms and students’ attitudes about being students will change,” he said, standing on College Green watching the rally.

Hogan said that while there presently are no plans to cancel any OU activities, the administration constantly is monitoring the international situation and will cancel activities if safety requires.

‘There is no official university response to the protest, other than that we respect the protesters’ right to express themselves, and to recognize that the students and others were protected in case of any counter-actions,” said OU President Robert Glidden in an email interview.

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