Threat of war hits home

by Courtney Kirkland

Although the battlefields are miles away, the possibility of war is hitting many Simpson students a little too close to home.

From direct contact with the war in the form of military service to student protest of foreign policy, the impact of an impending conflict with Iraq is being felt by the entire campus.

“It’s a little scary, thinking about being deployed and going to war,” said junior Ty Walzer, a member of the U.S. Marines. “But, it’s what I’ve trained for and if needed I’ll be proud to do it.”

Walzer has been training with the Marine Corps for one year.

Similarly, senior Jake Abel, a member of the U.S Air National Guard, also spends one weekend per month training for battle.

Abel, who spent a month last semester in Turkey on deployment, said that he, like Walzer, also thinks about the possibility of being called into duty.

“I’m not worried, but I think about it-I think about it a lot actually,” he said. “I am, however, more mentally prepared now because I was already deployed last semester.”

Walzer and Abel are just a couple of members of the Simpson community who are involved in the service. Some members have already been called to duty and are currently serving with branches of the U.S. military.

Sophomore Helen Vizcaya Payne, a member of U.S. Army Reserves, was activated approximately one week after the start of the spring semester. At this time, she is stationed in Texas.

Andrea Boyd, an admissions counselor at Simpson and member of the U.S Army National Guard, was called to active duty just one week ago. She is now stationed in Company D of the 109th Aviation unit out of Boone, Iowa.

Senior George Tom Leavitt, a member of the U.S. National Guard, has also been put on active duty status. His wife, senior Jennifer (Richardson) Leavitt, said that the couple is expecting that he will be deployed soon. The couple exchanged vows recently in order to unite prior to any conflict requiring his deployment.

Getting the Facts

With mounting tension associated with terrorist threats and talk of an impending war, Simpson students have had a lot of pertinent questions that may not be answered by the local nightly news.

In an attempt to help answer these questions, junior Amber Dickey a Resident Assistant in Picken Hall, asked Nicolas Proctor, assistant professor of history, to host a question and answer session for students Feb. 13 in the Picken Hall basement. According to Proctor, students in attendance asked questions while he served as what he said was an “expert witness.”

Proctor said that he was only there to provide students with information and that the session was in no way an anti- or pro-war demonstration.

“I did most of the talking, because I had the most information to share,” said Proctor. “I did not give my opinion on any of the issues, I just attempted to fill the gaps in the students’ information.”

Proctor said that he felt the meeting in Picken Hall was a success. “Many students asked a lot of important questions on topics ranging anywhere from the events of the Gulf war to current global perspectives on war,” Proctor said. “Many students who came told me they got a lot out of it. I think there should be more events like this on campus for students with questions.”

Joe Walt, professor emeritus of history (who still teaches some courses at Simpson) agrees.

“I would be glad to get together with other people to discuss the issues again like last year and have been talking to people about doing so,” he said.

Walt is referring to the spring and fall events of 2002 at which a panel of Simpson professors met with a number of interested students and community members to discuss their views on 9/11 and the events following.

“I think it is very worthwhile to have a group of people who are familiar with the issues meeting with students to discuss their views,” said Walt. “People should speak out on both sides of the issue, those who are or aren’t interested in peace absolutely have a right to say so.”

Taking Action

Simpson students who are interested in speaking out for peace are doing just that.

Recently students have been meeting in the Circle of Knowledge outside BSC around 11:45 a.m. for approximately one half hour in the interest of promoting peace on earth.

“We’re not there with a specific peace in mind, just world peace in general,” said sophomore Eliot Garfield.

Garfield said that the students who participate in the peace sit-outs are not all like-minded, each one has their own individual reasons for being there.

“I’m not out there hoping President Bush will see me, Sadaam will see me or Kim Jong II will see me. I’m out there hoping I’ll see me and that other people who see me will think about and internalize the whole concept of peace and let it into their personal lives because peace starts with us,” he said.

Protesting for Peace

In a more proactive approach, members of the Simpson community met on Feb. 14 in front of the library to discuss the 10 reasons why they feel there shouldn’t be a war in Iraq.

According to sophomore Chris Schacht, the gathering resembled an “anti-war rally.”

Simpson professors of religion Gary Kinkel and Tobias Winright spoke along with other students about their feelings toward the war.

Approximately 50 students were in attendance.

“Acting” Out

A theatrical project at Simpson is also making a statement.

On March 3 Simpson students will be joining theater groups around the world to promote peace by performing Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy “Lysistrata” at 6 p.m. in Lekburg Hall.

“As of Sunday Feb. 16, there were 538 readings of “Lysistrata” in 36 nations planned for the universal date (however, the number of productions increases hourly),” said sophomore Lindsey Ingles, who is organizing the reading at Simpson, “Two female actors in New York started this project early in January in order to enact the ideal ‘Think globally, act locally’.”

While students have already begun rehearsals for the reading, Ingles said that she still needs volunteers.

“This is a great opportunity for students to get involved in a non-violent protest for peace,” said Ingles.