Response to war at University is proving strong

Activities on campus garner attention for personal sacrifice, change, effort | April 2, 2003

Since the United States declared war on Iraq on March 19 and began its push toward Baghdad, the University has been active with talks, peace protests and support rallies. A gathering to discuss the war, known as Time to Talk, was so well-attended, a second gathering had to be scheduled a week later. Candlelight vigils have taken place around campus. Daily prayer vigils have taken place on the academic mall. And more activities are planned daily. The University has a special web news page devoted to providing daily updates of war-related activities on campus and helpful resources. Some activities, however, have captured a great deal of attention as a result of the participants' sacrifice and efforts. For three days in late March, for instance, more than 20 students and staff fasted as a means of reflecting and showing unity with those who suffer around the world. Spurred by the war in Iraq, the initiative, called Hungry for Peace, began in the Dorothy Day House, where more than eight peace and justice organizations are located. First-year student Sarah Scheibe said the fasting offered her an opportunity for personal reflection and growth. Fellow freshman Sarah Skelly added the fast helped her realize the impact she can have on the world. “I now realize the importance of what I am doing and how the small things I do can affect people and bring about change,” said Skelly. The fast began on Tuesday, March 25, with a meal of fruits, vegetables and pasta. Healthy diet guidelines were outlined for the participants at the time, as well. While some students chose to only drink water and fruit juices, other participants participated by cutting down their food consumption and becoming more aware of the unhealthy food in their diets. The group met daily on the X on the academic mall to reflect on the war and inform the public about their initiative. In addition, they met at mealtimes to either go to parks and reflect on the world condition or play a game of ultimate Frisbee on the campus green. The fast ended Friday, March 28, as the participants united again to share a healthy meal and discuss the three-day experience. A support-the-troops rally on the residential mall was also held on the last day of the fast that drew three area Congressmen. Organized by the campus Republicans and Democrats, the 4:00 p.m. rally featured Ohio Congressmen Rob Portman and Steve Chabot, both Republicans, and Kentucky Democratic Congressman Ken Lucas, who spoke of the sacrifice U.S. soldiers are making for world freedom. Chabot referred to the chemical and biological weapons Saddam Hussein could give to people who would bring them into the U.S. “That’s the primary reason our men and women are putting their lives on the line over there,” Chabot said. “Now we need to get behind them and pray for them so someday down the road we don’t need a monument as big as the Vietnam memorial.” “Our fellow citizens are risking their lives for us,” Portman said. “They’re there tonight in the Persian Gulf to protect us so our firefighters and police and emergency personnel don’t have to fight terrorism in the streets. American will be the land of the free as long as it is the home of the brave.” One member of the crowd, estimated at about 150, was a Vietnam veteran who had a slightly different point of view than the politicians speaking on the dais. He held up a sign that read: “America. Please don’t fail us again.” Also, the University’s radio station WVXU (91.7 FM) changed its programming in order to offer continuous coverage by adopting 24-hour staffing and providing immediate broadcasts of news updates as they become available. “We have to be ready and available to put coverage on immediately,” said George Zahn, director of network operations. “With the recent technological advances of our military and the eight-hour difference between the two countries, 24-hour coverage is a necessity.” The station has staffed up for weekends and overnight shifts, times that are typically automated, which means employees, including Zahn and broadcasting director Jim King, are putting in more hours. The staff is working with volunteers to make sure that updates are aired immediately. In addition, regular programming has been adjusted to allow for immediate airing of news alerts and press conferences to make sure listeners hear the latest war developments. For example, 30 hours out of a recent span of 33 hours of weekend programming were dedicated to war coverage. The station has also updated its web site to include links from national news sources including alerts, maps and a photo gallery. The war site is made available through National Public Radio. “We carry all the news coverage available, because our priority is to be a service to the public,” Zahn said. “Everything has to be as fluid and flexible as possible. Our ultimate goal is to not miss a beat in order to be the main source on the radio dial.” —By Lena Davie and France Griggs Sloat