By Matthew Winslow, an assistant professor of psychology and the faculty adviser for the EKU Greens.
First we’d like to thank all of the people who came out for the protest and march, including people on all sides of the issue. One of our goals for the event was to encourage dialogue on the important topic of war with Iraq. We’d also like to thank EKU, public safety and student activities for their help in facilitating the event. We feel that free speech is one of the most important features of higher education, and we could not have exercised this right without the support of the institution.
We’d also like to thank the media who covered the event. The Richmond Register, WKYT, WEKU and The Eastern Progress all covered the event (apologies to those left out). These media outlets helped us spread our message, and we are grateful.
However, we would like to respond to The Progress article. We feel that it mis-characterized the event and our goals.
First, and most importantly, we do not hold anti-troop sentiments. Many people who attended the protest seemed to believe that we have some ill will toward U.S. armed forces. This is not the case. None of our signs, chants, or songs spoke to or about U.S. troops in any way. We disagree with the people making the orders, not the people who are following the orders. The Progress came out on Thursday with a large picture above the fold of Christa Bilski pointing to her engagement ring. The look on her face in the photo could not have been any more dramatic. However, we would say to her and others who are concerned about our troops that we support our troops, but the best way to ensure their safety is to avoid war at all costs.
We’d also like to say that one of our goals for the event was to provoke thought and discussion about this important topic, but not to offend anyone. We regret that one of our chants contained foul language (as indicated in the Progress), and we would point out that all but that particular chant were not offensive, and merely stated our position (for example, “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!”). We feel that it was unfortunate that only one of the chants was quoted in The Progress, and to suggest that the chant was somehow the cause of the vulgar and aggressive behavior of those in opposition to our position is a misrepresentation of what happened.
Finally, we would like to address the behavior of Matt Allen. This individual chose to run through our peaceful protest and destroy our property, accosting us in an aggressive manner. This kind of assault should not be permitted on this campus or anywhere, and we are taking steps to make sure that the proper actions are taken to punish his lawless behavior. We are appalled that The Progress chose to describe his assault and then quote him. We believe that The Progress would not have taken such action with the (confessed) perpetrator of any other violent crime (for example, destruction of property, sexual assault, or mugging). The Progress should not glorify acts of violence.
Finally, we would like to encourage everyone in the campus community to keep thinking and talking about war with Iraq and foreign policy in general. The EKU Colonels for Peace are planning more events for the future, including a campus-wide teach-in with experts from all sides of this debate. One thing is clear: this country was built on free speech, and it is our civic duty to be informed and discuss the issues facing our nation. We hope that EKU will live up to this ideal.
The EKU Colonels for Peace meet Wednesdays at 3 p.m. in Crabbe Room 108. All are welcome.