March 24, 2003
More than 500 students, faculty and administrators demonstrated peacefully during a University-sponsored rally and spoke out against the military conflict between the United States and Iraq on Monday, SFSU’s first day of classes after spring break.
Because the conflict with Iraq escalated during the week students were off campus for spring break, the University realized students would feel passionate about the war and therefore gave them an opportunity to express their views.
“This University community will, even in the heat of great emotion, remain a safe and free place for all points of view and all people among us,” President Robert A. Corrigan said. Corrigan stressed the importance of civil discourse among members of the campus community.
“It is not unpatriotic to disagree with decisions or actions of your government,” he said, “but it is deeply unpatriotic to stifle opposing points of view, whether by shouting them down or by more subtly making those who disagree feel unsafe or unwilling to express their views.”
History Professor Robert Cherny read a resolution recently passed by the SFSU Academic Senate condemning a unilateral attack on Iraq. He interpreted the resolution as stating that war goes against SFSU’s values.
“War is antithetical to the values of the academy,” said Cherny, chair of the Academic Senate.
“We value rational analysis. We value the drawing of conclusions based on evidence. We value trying to understand all sides of an issue. Wars collapse these efforts.”
Ronda Newt-Scott, Associated Students president, said that problems in the United States should be a higher priority for President Bush than problems in Iraq.
“You have people who are oppressed here. What are you doing about it?” she said. “When the hell is this government going to stop and actually care about the people here?”
Ken Monteiro, dean of human relations, praised students for their "new-school activism." He reminded them that SFSU has long been ground zero for nurturing fledgling activists and community organizers.
“San Francisco State has given birth to more about free speech, more about anti-war, more about social justice than anyplace else,” he said. “You come here for your Ph.D. in peace and justice.”
Following the rally about 350 students marched to the Administration Building and staged a sit-in on the first floor. Organizers unfurled signs over the wall of the building and used bullhorns to speak out.
During the sit-in, students took turn speaking, chanted anti-war slogans, ate, danced and listened to a visiting professor speak about Iraq. After about four hours and with less than 100 students remaining, the group left peacefully on their own. No arrests were made.
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