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December 12, 1990 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-12-12

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 12,1990- Page 7

Continued from page 1
student rights movement and the interest
generated by the teach-in sputtered.
Although more than 100 students at-
nded the first meeting of the Student
Coalition Against Intervention in the
Middle East Nov. 27, movement leaders
admit to a lack of mobilization. They
y that despite a general student oppo-
sition to a possible war, they are having
double generating activism.
Those involved in the anti-war
-movement say the reasons for a lack of
student opposition to the threat of war
Are more complex than end-of-term
'The difference between the Persian
Gulf crisis and the student rights cam-
pglgn is clear: proximity U.S. actions
imthe Middle East have not touched the
pVrage student. Although some stu-
dents in the military reserves have been
Balled to duty, the lack of a draft or seri-
ous casualty-counts pushes the situation
ipto the periphery of students' concerns.
"I think people don't think it's af-
ting them," said Bethanie George, an
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LSA junior who says her involvement
in the anti-war movement is her first at-
tempt at campus activism. "Their real
lives are their tests and they don't think
what's really going on - there's going
to be a war."
The draft was an intrinsic force in the
student upheavals of the 1960s. The
students who revolted were doing so for
humanitarian and selfish reasons; they
were against war in general, but they
were also frightened of losing their own
lives. Such a fear does not currently ex-
ist for the majority of University
"It's a very overwhelming thing
that's happening, and it's hard to know
what to do," said RC senior Annie
Milan, who attended a community anti-
war rally Saturday. "It's very overpower-
ing; it's happening very fast. A lot of
people are in denial, they don't want to
deal with what's happening ... You
have to get slapped in the face before
you respond, it's sad."
Economics Prof. Tom Weiss-kopf,
who helped organize the teach-in, said
the lack of an immediate personal threat
is hampering the anti-war movement.
"There aren't many students on this
campus themselves who will go to
Saudi Arabia," he said. "It's still some-
what a distant thing. It doesn't hit home
with students like the Vietnam war. (A
draft) would create a more direct fear and
concern on campus than there is now."
In addition to a lack of a personal
motivation, the present generation of
students came of age in a period which
did not encourage political activism,
community action or active participa-
tion in democracy. The 1980s stressed
individuals over the community. Stu-
dents did not witness the mobilizations
during the 1960s and '70s and have no
personal examples to follow. The legacy
of the 1980s' political apathy may be an
apathetic student generation.
The Rev. Amy Morrison, the cam-

pus minister for the First Presbyterian
Church and the Campus Ecumenical
Center, which has taken an active role
in the anti-war movement, said the
legacy of the 1980s is evident in the
lack of mobilization against the war.
"The '80s was a decade of amazing
individualism; it's kind of like capital-
ism gone awry, every one is out for
themselves," Morrison said. "Students
deep down care, they need leaders to
show them how to act in a concrete
(way) ... (Students are) a reflection of
the culture ... it's not like we have a
cultural environment that encourages ac-
tivism or involvement."
Because students have not witnessed
massive popular movements, the result
may not just be apathy, but a feeling of
hopelessness and political impotence.
Students have not seen effective peo-
ples' movements and may not believe
the people can make change.
Students are also being barraged with
many other social and economic prob-
lems - homelessness, sexual assault,
racism, recession - which add to their
feeling of powerlessness. The result,
said Morrison, is a kind of "psychic
numbing" which makes leads to a
"general sense to 'where do I start?"'
Weisskopf said a key to effective
mobilization is making people feel they
are empowered through group action.
"People have to be persuaded that
what they do has some affect," Prof.
Weisskopf said. "It's not easy to have
an affect. In order to have an affect, you
usually have to be part of a larger
group. It's a real challenge to figure out
how to have an impact."
First-year RC student Andrea Gager,
who has been active in the anti-war stu-
dent coalition, said she has tried to turn
the feeling of powerlessness into a mo-
tivation to work harder.
"It's gone so rapidly to a point where
it seems nothing can be done; war
seems inevitable," Gager said. "That

feeling of hopelessness leaves people
thinking that there's nothing I can do;
so they do nothing ... That makes me
work harder."
Despite the lack of Michigan student
activism in the anti-war movement,
leaders say they are hopeful that if the
crisis escalates, students will become
involved. They say the inevitable com-
parisons to the student movement
against the Vietnam war are unfounded.
The anti-Vietnam War movement is re-
membered not for its beginnings in the
early '60s, but its peak in 1968 and
later. The Persian Gulf crisis is only a
few months old.
'It's a very
overwhelming thing
that's happening, and
it's hard to know what
to do ... You have
to get slapped in the
face before you
respond, it's sad'
- Annie Mila
RC senior
"It's a very important point that (the
'60s anti-war movement) didn't reach
that peak of activity until the war had
gone on for years," Weisskopf said. "I
think it's right to compare the situation
now to the early periods of the 1960s ...
it was not a direct concern then."
Morrison agrees with Weiss-kopf's
assessment. "It took years for the
Vietnam movement to take off ... we're
already seeing the move-ment mobi-
lized; that is a hopeful beacon."
With a fresh semester and the United
Nations' Jan. 15 deadline for Saddam
Hussein to withdraw from Iraq, students
may follow that beacon's signal.
Perhaps it will provide them the moti-
vation and the energy to give the anti-
war movement a strong voice.,

Mchele Rubin
LSA senior
"My basic opinion on it is that
.otstudenon't have an
opinion on it.. I think it's sad
on a campus with such a history
of activism that everyone's so
complacent ... Students here
want to live in their own world
... We pick and choose our
issues and we choose issues
that have to do with the little
world we've created."
Pam Lavis
LSA junior
"Maybe it take something
tragic, like people dying over
there, for people to do
something about it ... I haven't
been able to do everything that I r
want too because I'm so busy2
(she plans to attend the Jan. 26
national rally) I will have more
time to get involved once the
new semester starts."
Angela Baker
SFirst-year nursing
"I'd really like to see our people
come home ... I want a peaceful
solution ... I think people want
to keep their mouths shut and
let it evolve by itself... I think
George Bush is doing the best
he can considering the guy he's
dealing with (Saddam Hussein).'
Mike O'Dell
LSA senior
"I think people are kind of
frustrated because the Bush
administration is doing what it's
doing in its own best interests,
it's not being swayed by popular
opposition. I'm like a lot of other
people because I don't feel like I
can do anything ... this has
happened so fast that there
hasn't been time to mobiieze ..."
Greg Plezia
Sophomore LSA
"The reason there isn't an anti-
war movement is there isn't a
war yet. It hasn't really affected
anyone other than for oil prices
... We're reacting to an
aggressor I think that as long,
as it's a United Nations strike,
not an autonomous U.S. strike,
it would be justified."

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Continued from Page 1
ternative to war.
"War isn't necessary. Bush should lis-
ten to congress and follow the embargo,"
Engineering junior Scott Coulston said.
Sociology graduate student Amy
Chenoweth said war would be a mistake
"without trying diplomacy first."
LSA first-year student Ryan Day was
among those who said war is necessary.
"We're insuring a protective force for
Kuwait. It's important that we lead the
way because we're one of the most power-
ful nations," he said.
The students cited oil as the main rea-
son for U.S. involvement in the Middle

East, but other reasons were given as well.
Influence in the Middle East, power,
peacekeeping, suppressing Iraq, protecting
Kuwait, stopping Saddam Hussein's nu-
clear capabilities, and President Bush's
politicking were all given as a reason for
American military action in the Middle
"It's for lower gas prices, not for high
and mighty reasons," said John Holkeboer,
a Music school first-year student.
"It's for control of the Middle East,"
said Christine Chilimigras, an LSA ju-
Residential College senior Joanna
Porvin said multiple reasons exist for
U.S. involvement in the Middle East.
"It's tri-fold. One reason -is our inter-

ests - oil. The second is Bush's political
agenda. And third, there are human rights
interests," she said..
More than a few students expressed
confusion over the moral stance taken by
Bush against Iraqi aggression, referring to
the recent invasion of Panama.
"It's hypocritical. I don't understand
what we're doing," Engineering first-year
student Shelly Nolan said.
Melissa Danforth, a first-year RC stu-
dent whose father is currently serving in
Saudi Arabia, said that other nations have
only token forces in Saudi Arabia.
"Why is it our responsibility?" she

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