Tolerance forum aids war dialogue

by Amy Zoss

Simpson students packed the lounge in BSC for the special forum event designed to give the Simpson community a chance to air its views on the war in Iraq.

Vice President for Student Development Jim Thorius scheduled the “Dialogue on the War in Iraq” partly in response to the recent spate of war-related protests on campus. The destruction of the crosses that were put up in front of Smith Chapel, the constant swarm of mass e-mail messages, and the window that was broken by a rock throw at a theme house that displayed dissent to the war displayed the necessity of more productive methods of discourse.

“I think the event met a need on campus,” said Thorius.

Despite the diversity of opinion on the panel, all the panelists endorsed the idea that those with an opinion should definitely speak up. Though Professor of Economics Frank Colella expressed his support for the war, he said that he hoped the anti-war protesters would continue to question the motivations behind such policies of foreign invasion “so the United States won’t rush into another one of these things.”

“Just because I support this war doesn’t mean I would support every military incursion.I think they [dissenters] should continue to protest,” said Colella.

Five additional faculty members joined Colella on the panel: Associate Professor of Sociology Mark Freyberg, Associate Professor of Political Science Eduardo Magalhaes, and Assistant Professors of History John Fry, Jennifer Hedda, and Nick Proctor.

Colella, Freyberg, Fry and Magalhaes represented some varying opinions of those who support the war. Hedda and Proctor represented the voice of dissent and questioning concerning the war.

Proctor expressed that he had been more avidly against the war before, but he said, “In some ways, I’m ready to begin discussing the next thing, which is making the peace.”

Hedda said she had “grave reservations” about the war.

After each panelist gave a brief statement, the floor was open for questions from the audience. Students asked about issues ranging from media coverage of the war to the war’s impact on the future effectiveness of the United Nations.

According to Thorius, the campus lounge held 175 chairs for the event-and there were few seats left by the time the forum started last Tuesday. The forum event was scheduled to last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but the audience had so many questions that Thorius extended the discussion to 9:45 before he finally ended the discussion.

The debate was spirited but civil, precisely what the event organizers hoped for.

Thorius said, “This forum hopefully provided a way to engage students and provide a functional model for them to understand the task of discussing and debating difficult issues.”