Students voice opinion, ‘give a damn’

By Mae Kowalke and Suzanne Wilder
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.

Although I am not quoted in this piece, and the views of its sources do not reflect my own, I have included it because it provides a good record of views which unfortunately were prevalent in the early days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.]

Despite a rally for peace on campus and civil disobedience arrests in the streets of Athens yesterday, many Ohio university students said they think it is necessary to oust Saddam Hussein from power, no matter what the means.

“It’s going to be worse if we don’t take action,” said Michael Valente, a second-year medical student. He hopes that military action will be short and successful, and believes the Iraqi people are scared to take a stance against their leader.

“I think we need to liberate this country from their leader,” Valente said, who was one of many students who said they support the disarmament of Iraq.

Saddam is a “dangerous man” with the power to harm a lot of people, said Amanda Cunningham, a senior marketing and finance major. She does not believe a man of Saddam’s mindset is capable of peaceful negotiations.

“I wish there was another way, but if it’s the only way, then it’s a necessary evil,” Cunningham said. “He’s capable of things I don’t want to imagine.

“With the gravity of war and what is implied by that three-letter word, you want to believe in your government, and that they are risking lives for the right reasons.”

Cunningham also was highly supportive of yesterday’s peace rally, calling it “absolutely wonderful.”

“It’s nice to see people give a damn about something other than themselves,” she said.

Kevin Carter, a first-year medical students, also thought the peace rally made a difference. He said it was a good way for people to spread the word, and they have that right as Americans.

Carter also called the unilateral action an “interesting move.” It is risky because a lot of anti-American ideas exist in the world, but the U.S. government is tired of waiting for the United Nations to take action, he said.

“I just hope (the government) knows things the public doesn’t,” Carter said.

Other students said that they disagree with the thought of war, but they have mixed feelings about the conflict with Iraq.

“I don’t really want to go to war. But, at the same time, Saddam Hussein has had twelve years to comply with the demands,” said Robert Shinhault, a senior management information systems major.

As evidenced by the peace rally yesterday, not all students support the government actions.

Leslie Jo Shelton, a senior sociology and criminology major, said she does not support the war but does support the troops.

“It’s a fine line between being patriotic and not wanting to cost lives,” she said.

Amani Shalodi, a pre-law junior, said this conflict is “another time when American gets involved in business it shouldn’t.”

“I think it is ridiculous that in this day and age we continue to solve our problems in the most primal way,” she said. “War sends out a really strong message that, if all else fails, violence is the answer.”

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