Attacks force students to rethink war

by Allison Clancy | 11/14/01 6:00am

As thousands of Americans mourn the loss of their family members and friends and President George W. Bush enjoys stratospheric approval ratings, a first year student, who wished to remain anonymous, maintained that she is "against violence to all people, any people, no matter what their gender, religion, race."

While there are those who remain steadfast in their distaste for military action, the events of Sept. 11 have led many students to reevaluate their attitudes toward war and related political action.

I was too young to experience the Gulf War," Ryan Bennett '04 said. "This is my first war that I've been old enough to understand."

He added that the war has "highlighted problems with terrorism and the need to assess and redress them."

Rebecca Meyers '03 said the events of Sept. 11 have made her views about war "more realistic."

"Its very easy to say I don't support war and I support peace, but when it hits home you realize that you have to act," she said. "It's in the present, not something in the past that you can analyze, especially since it's so close to home."

According to Upperclass Dean Sylvia Langford, almost all Dartmouth students have been touched by the attacks on America and their aftermath.

"Some students have been profoundly affected personally and have lost family or friends," she told The Dartmouth. "Some students have grieved this loss from a more global perspective, some students have mourned our country's loss of security and sense of safety, some have questioned how our country can be so hated, others have questioned our

need to fight back and are lobbying for peace."

The Sept. 11 attacks hit physically closer to home than any of the acts of war aimed at America during the past century. Real-time and constant cable news coverage also boosts the seeming proximity of the war.

These factors have partially shaped the different student perspectives about the ongoing U.S. military effort to eradicate terrorism.

Some students' reaction is to act like Vietnam protestors and ridicule all military actions. One such anti-war student is Janos Marton '04, who told The Dartmouth that he has serious reservations about the government's motives for waging war in the first place.

"It's an absurd war in premise," he said. "It's kind of a hopeless war and the United States has ulterior motives that they aren't releasing to go into Afghanistan."

Christina Picone '03 expressed a lesser degree of skepticism, saying, "We usually wait until our interests are at stake" to get involved.

Some students complained about being isolated from developments while at Dartmouth, even with the advantage of 24-hour news via television and internet.

Marton stated that most students at Dartmouth "watch CNN and are completely oblivious to the actual facts of the war."

Lindsay Hirschfeld '03 added: "Being as removed as we are makes us feel unconnected. For those of us not from New York or Washington D.C., it doesn't seem that real."

Paul Marino '04 said he felt he didn't know enough about war or the terrorists when the conflict erupted.

"I found that I wasn't as educated as I should have been," he said. "I'm interested in reading about it and going to panel discussions. I definitely will be involved more in the future as I know more about it."

In response to this apparent dearth of information, some students have taken actions to share their views with a larger audience.

Jeanette Park '02 has helped to plan talks on changes in national security and the role of women in the war as an intern for AGORA, a Rockefeller Center discussion group, and plans on publishing her views in "Mainstreet" magazine.

"It is my mission to engage students in discussion," she said. "The events of September 11 really drive home that we need to be more informed and more engaged." Both Marino and Marton have participated in anti-war protests in Washington DC, and Marino helped to organize Dartmouth's observance of "Peaceful Justice, a national day of protests and demonstration."

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