War on two fronts

Kelly Tyko

The peace protest outside Boca Raton City Hall was supposed to start at 5 p.m. – and it did. The problem was organizer Nick Keener was the only protester there.

The Lynn University junior stood in front of city hall staunchly holding his signs and constantly looking at his watch. After 30 minutes, about 18 Lynn and FAU students joined Keener. Whenever a driver honked their horn, they cheered.

“This is great. Anything is better than two or three people,” Keener said.

While the small crowd was protesting the war with Iraq on March 20, even more FAU students were fighting in it. So far this semester, 28 students have withdrawn from classes to serve in the war. Three left in the fall semester, and one student reservist left during the summer.

FAU history student Cairo Rego thought attending the protest could help bring home the FAU students and other troops. Rego doesn’t “think it’s too late to request or demand peace.”

“This war is going to do nothing but bring us pain and suffering,” Rego said.

Carrying a sign that said “How many lives per gallon,” FAU Ph.D. student Malti Turnbull said she thought war protests were patriotic. “Dissent and free speech are at jeopardy right now,” Turnbull said.

“And when our troops come home, we don’t know what they’ll be suffering from and for how long. I think this war is unethical and immoral.”

Turnbull has been instrumental in organizing protests and peace rallies that have been held on the Boca Raton campus. Because she is worried about the FAU students who are in the battlefields, she has tried to get a list of the students who went to war so she could honor them at a rally.

But Turnbull was denied because there is a university policy against giving student records’ information without the students’ permission. Permission can’t be granted, as at least 99 percent of them are overseas, said Michelle Shaw, from the dean of student affairs office.

Keener, who is the founder of the Students Progressive Action Network at Lynn, said that while he didn’t support the war, he supported America’s armed forces.

“We love these guys,” said Keener. “It’s vital for people to know that students know it is not video games we’re playing and not movies we’re watching. These are real people’s lives.”

Some students keep quiet

While many students have protested the war with Iraq, not many were talking about their concerns. A day after the war with Iraq began, FAU’s counseling center and police department hosted a discussion “Coping with World Tension.”

Flyers advertising the free open discussion said that participants would have a chance to express their feelings with students, community members, university counselors, and the police department.

Not much discussion took place as only one student was there with two counselors and one police officer.

Barry Gregory, who’s the assistant director of the Counseling Center, wasn’t surprised by the lack of participation.

“It’s not unexpected that they’re not here,” Gregory said. “They’re not used to coming on campus on Thursday night. It’s not the typical way to express their emotions.”

Despite a small turnout, Gregory believes that the FAU community is thinking about the war. “This is very much on the students’ minds, on the staff’s minds, on the faculty’s minds,” Gregory said.

According to Officer Tracey Merritt, there are several students worried about how the war will affect campus life.

“We’ve had several people, especially Middle Eastern people, call us, and say that they’re concerned that all eyes are on them. Everyone’s looking at them and they don’t feel safe,” Merritt said.

Gregory said a few professors have called him to voice their students’ concerns. “Mainly, they want to know if they’re safe at the university and if they should go home,” he said.

It’s important to go on with your daily routine and not to preoccupy yourself with the news, Gregory said.

“Rent a movie and not a movie like Black Hawk Down. Rent a comedy.”

For more information on the Counseling Center, call 561/297-3540.