Iraq Veterans Against the War and Students Against War came together with members of the Green Party, Coalition Against Militarism, the Black Student Union, M.E.Ch.A. and the Muslim Student Association to protest the war in Iraq Wednesday in front of the Oviatt Library.
About 50 people gathered to hear guest speakers and live music as they discussed reasons why the war in Iraq should not continue any longer.
Student Jabbar Magruder, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said he was there to revive Students Against War, a club that was last active at CSUN about a year ago.
Magruder was a Black Hawk Helicopter mechanic in the Army National Guard. Although he is against the war in Iraq, Magruder said he would never tell another student what to do.
If someone were considering joining the military, he said he would provide all the information necessary for them to make an intelligent decision.
Rosa Furumoto, CSUN assistant professor of Chicano/a Studies and a member of the Coalition Against Militarism, gave a speech about how students can make a difference in stopping the war. The campus should not stay quiet, because it is very important for students to be educated about the war, Furumoto said.
“It is time to wake up,” she said.
Out of Iraq’s population of about 25 million, Furumoto estimated up to one million civilians have been killed in the war in Iraq.
She said there are alternatives to war, and it is up to the younger generation to stand up and do something about it.
Dr. David Klein, a math professor at CSUN, was also on hand to talk about how the war affects students. He said increased student fees are a result of the U.S. government spending money killing people.
Professor Elias Serna of Chicano/a Studies agreed with the antiwar consensus. He said the war is of much greater importance to America than education.
Paul Wicker, a “counter-recruiter” and a member of Coalition Against Militarism, said he attended the rally because his son served in the U.S. military in 1990.
After one year of service, the military told his son that they no longer needed him.
“They cut him loose without any of his benefits,” Wicker said.
Wicker said he witnessed first hand how the military treated his son in general, and through that experience, he began to educate himself on the war in Iraq.
“America went to war on false pretenses,” he said.
There was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11, there were no weapons of mass destruction, and Hussein’s regime in Iraq was not a threat to the United States, he said.
As a counter-recruiter, Wicker talks to students about post-traumatic stress disorder, and how it can affect the lives of soldiers.
After the speeches, members of M.E.Ch.A. gathered around a U.S. Army recruiter who happened to be displaying his military information outside of Jerome Richfield Hall. Some protesters, partially blocking the lone recruiter’s booth with large protest signs, repeatedly chanted, “Military go, military go.”
Other nearby students trying to question the recruiter, who identified himself as Santos, shook their heads.
“There is a time for everything, and there is a time for war,” a female student, who would only identify herself as Christina, said. Her brother is currently serving in Iraq. Well aware of the risks, she said it was his decision to sign up.
Geghard Arakelian said that while he does not agree with the war in Iraq, the act of protesting is “extremist.”
Arakelian said he did not appreciate the manner in which the military recruiter was treated.
“Try living in a country without a military,” he said.
Jason Eubanks, a UCLA reserve training coach, said, “This is the beauty of America, freedom of speech.” Eubanks does not see anything wrong with students who protest in the presence of military recruitment on campus. He joined the military because of President Bush’s “inspirational” speeches and his stand on freedom.
“There is a bigger picture here that the protestors don’t see, and that is protecting American lives,” he said.
Alejandro Rodriguez, a Chicano/a Studies major, came to the rally to help out in any way he could.
“We all have problems within our own groups, but we are all coming together for something that affects us,” Rodriguez said.