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President Sheldon Hackney discussed the University's responsibilites concerning the Persian Gulf war with a group of about 40 students last night in High Rise South. Hackney's talk began by contrasting the Gulf war with the Vietnam War. The "reason for involvement was kind of murky" in Vietnam, Hackney said, while in this case Hackney felt it was more obvious. "Ho Chi Minh was much less a devil figure than Saddam Hussein," said Hackney. Hackney said there were several different groups involved in protesting the war, including "traditional pacifists," "radicals at odds with the current regime" of the Bush administration, and people who object to the reasons for fighting the war. Hackney discussed with students the University's role in facilitating discussion of the war. Hackney said he hopes that the "University's traditional role to be an open forum" will continue. He said that students should speak their minds without fear and should not be intimidated by the diversity of opinion at the University. "We have an obligation to be good citizens," Hackney said. Acting as a "seat of criticism" throughout the war is one of the University's obligations, he added. At the end of his talk, the president asked students their opinions on the war. "I found it kind of shocking that the day after the war [started] things were pretty much business as usual," said College of General Studies junior Cheryl Friedman. She added that students at the University are sheltered from the war's effects. Wharton Junior Brian Young said he was also upset by students' lack of concern. "To ignore it completely eliminates your claim as a scholar," Young said, adding that the "lack of an intellectual atmosphere" at the University causes this. Students told Hackney that the University should be doing more to keep them informed. "Nobody on campus gets CNN," said College senior Mitu Agarwal, a Resident Advisor in High Rise South who organized the event. In addition to discussion of the war, students asked Hackney about such topics as the future of the Castle, the effect of federal budget cuts on the University, the rapid turnover in deans, the drop in black applicants, and the future of Smith Hall. About half of the students attending were residents of Agarwall's floor. "Students don't get an opportunity to meet President Hackney and this was a good opportunity to," said Agarwall, who invited Hackney to speak in May of last year. "I'm really glad that he gave us the time to talk to him," said College sophomore Chris Travis. "It was done with a small enough group that we could talk to him."

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