Students rally for peace; wear white armbands

The small group on Cross Campus Tuesday was solemn and intellectual. The 50 or so people were sharing their views on the recent U.S. bombings in Afghanistan.

And then Dalton Jones GRD ’03 rollerbladed into the center of the circle and began belting out the words to Peter Tosh’s “Equal Rights.”

Jones was the only one to do it in song, but he was not the only one to use this forum — organized by the Yale Coalition for Peace — to voice his disapproval of the bombings and his wish for more information about the U.S. actions. In addition to the 4 p.m. speak-out, some students are wearing white armbands to rally for international peace.

Outside the circle, most Yalies went on with life as usual.

“A protest rally? Oh, that’s what that is,” Jack Lin ’02 said when interrupted from a soccer game on the other side of Cross Campus during the rally.

While Nicolas Dragojlovic ’03 — Lin’s soccer partner — said he recognizes the importance of an anti-war movement, he too spent his afternoon playing soccer rather than sharing his concerns.

People at the speak-out said the apathy of Yalies like Lin and Dragojlovic — and the rest of the country — comes from ignorance.

“We basically just know a few miscellaneous facts [about the bombings],” Will Tanzman ’04 said to the circle of concerned Yalies.

During the hourlong gathering, students and New Haven community members voiced their concerns.

Some mentioned the media has provided few images of the destruction in Afghanistan and no Afghan victim biographies, though both were available about the Sept. 11 attacks.

Others said this lack of information makes Americans less sympathetic towards Afghan victims and less likely to question the U.S. actions.

“No one’s saying anything,” said Cathy de la Aguilera ’04, a member of the peace coalition. “It’s just accepted.”

Jones suggested that many students are simply too scared to join in an activist movement right now. But participants in Tuesday’s rally are not quietly accepting recent events.

“I understand that it’s a matter of national security,” participant Charles Billington ’04 said, “but the fact that we can’t see it makes me not trust what’s going on.”

The small rally on Cross Campus was no competition for the walkout at Wesleyan University Monday, which made national news.

Julianna Bentes ’04, a member of the peace coalition, said the Yale group decided not to join Wesleyan’s protest despite an e-mail from the Wesleyan group encouraging Yale’s participation.

Bentes said the Yale group is not large enough to make a statement. The group also feared a walkout would imply Yale is its enemy, although it opposes only the U.S. bombings, she added.

The peace coalition is attempting another peaceful form of protest — armbands.

Made out of old white sheets sliced up in Dwight Hall Sunday night, the armbands stand for concern over the military action and hope for peace, group member Jonathan Scolnik ’03 said.

The group has only distributed about 50 so far, and few Yalies have noticed bands on campus.

While their efforts thus far have been small-scale, Jones said Yalies have the power to influence the nascent anti-war movement.

“Hopefully — activists will start becoming active,” Jones said.

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