Declaring a "war against war," a small band of students protesting the U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf region held a "Peace Fest" on College Green Friday afternoon. And they found the University community ready to do battle both for and against their cause. Over 150 people attended the two-hour discussion, which featured speakers on both sides of the debate over the U.S. presence in the region. Many of the speeches were marred by hecklers from both camps who yelled slogans and by others who sang patriotic anthems. The rally on College Green took place virtually in front of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity house, and much of the opposition to speakers during the event came from within the house. At two points, an Open Expression monitor ordered the fraternity members to stop interupting the rally. The overwhelming majority of speakers at the rally argued against U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf, attributing the rapid military buildup to a wide variety of causes including overdependence on oil, media glorification of violence and the "macho" attitudes of some military leaders. "Bush wants another war, we say no," chanted Marie Bloom of Act for Peace in the Middle East. "We remember Vietnam, we won't go." Other speakers said that quick military response was necessary to prevent both Iraqi expansion and U.S. economic hardship. During the speeches, an Open Expression monitor asked that the playing of patriotic music from a second-floor window of Phi Kappa Sigma be stopped, as well as the singing of the national anthem by a group which gathered outside the house. According to College senior Bart Barre, an Open Expression monitor overseeing the event told them they were breaking Open Expression guidelines and had to stop. A group of students then attempted to sing the national anthem between speeches. The next speaker, however, began despite the singing, and the group was again stopped by the Open Expression monitor. Barre said that his name and social security number were recorded by the monitor because he continued singing after the rest of the group stopped. Deputy Vice Provost George Koval said last night that Barre was not cited for a violation of Open Expression, but added that his name was taken down in case any violations occurred. Open Expression guidelines state that groups or individuals violate these rules if they "interfere unreasonably with the activites of other persons." The rally officially began just before noon at Superblock, where 25 students tied on white armbands and bandannas before beginning a noisy procession down Locust Walk. As pedestrians parted in their wake, the group played guitars, flutes, and a tamborine, and repeatedly yelled, "Let's talk about the war." Students generally said the rally was a worthwhile event. Some, however, expressed irritation at the distractions from the Phi Sigma Kappa house. "I think it's good," said College of General Studies senior Adam Hirsch. "I think it's kind of annoying when [there are interruptions from] these fraternity people on the Walk." Staff writer Emily Culbertson contributed to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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