Students put up a fight for peace

Sarah Haas

During the Iraq War, nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed, and the U.N. estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. So far, the U.S. government has also invested an estimated $3 trillion.

On Monday night, the ISU club Time for Peace is hosting a peace rally to bring attention to the unpleasant results of the war.

An organization that aims to develop a culture of nonviolence, Time for Peace was formed on Sept. 11, 2001, by two ISU students who forecasted that America’s response to the terrorist attacks would be violent, said Greg Bonett, senior in electrical engineering and treasurer of the club.

Since its conception, the club has worked to spread thoughts of nonviolence across campus and throughout the Ames community.

From circulating petitions against arming campus police to sponsoring the Iraq Town Hall Meeting in Ames, the club aims to practice and educate people about nonviolence – which the members believe is the most efficient way of achieving social change.

“Practicing nonviolence is a more effective way of living,” Bonett said.

The club’s largest affair is their annual peace rally, which commemorates the fifth year of the invasion of Iraq.

“Originally, the war had fairly large support because we were told that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But now we know that they didn’t,” Bonett said.

Organizers have seen the size of the protest grow steadily in recent years, and Bonett said he believes the trend will continue.

Students living on campus and around Lincoln Way will be able to see the participants easily, which Bonett hopes will encourage thoughtful reflection on the war.

“Tuition is going up while we spend $722 million a day on the war in Iraq. We need those resources here,” Bonett said. “This is our chance to try to do something to change it – because if we don’t say anything, it won’t change.”

Mukund Premkumar, sophomore in genetics and member of Time for Peace, said his and other participants’ activism should send a message to the ISU community.

“It will tell people that there is a sizable student population that is against the war,” Premkumar said.

People have become unaware of the impact the war has, Premkumar said.

“With daily reports of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers dying, a lot of people have become desensitized and numb to those stories,” he said.

“Hopefully, this peace rally will remind a majority of the ISU community that we are still in a war with tremendous costs – both financial and human.”

Rally participants will include activist groups from all over Iowa, making it one of the largest peace rallies in Iowa to commemorate the invasion, Bonett said.

Premkumar said the rally should remind students and Ames residents of the value of democracy.

“We are voicing our dissent with what’s going on, and hopefully it will convince citizens to cherish peace,” Premkumar said.