Anthropology professor Helen Schwartzman spent her Saturday walking down Franklin Boulevard in Chicago, surrounded by more than 5,000 protestors waving signs and shouting for an end to the war in Iraq.
“No one else has sacrificed, so you don’t have to pay attention (to the war),” she said. “This is to make them pay attention.”
Schwartzman and at least 30 other Northwestern faculty and students joined Midwestern protestors at Federal Plaza on Saturday afternoon as part of an 11-city demonstration against the war. The protest was part of the National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq, led by a coalition of 1,400 groups called United for Peace and Justice.
Two years ago, NU history professors Robert Lerner and John Bushnell ran an advertisement in The Daily listing NU faculty who opposed the war, Bushnell said.
Two weeks ago, the professors contacted the same faculty members to ask if they would like to speak out again for an end to the war by placing another ad and marching in the protest.
With just four days between their request and the deadline for the advertisement, about 75 professors agreed to list their names as supporters of the protest.
Bushnell, who said he has opposed the war “since before it started,” said he was happy with the faculty response, but was surprised at some of the groups that did not participate. Most of the professors listed were from the history, anthropology or religion departments, he said.
“I was glad that somewhat less than 100 people joined in the ad – we didn’t realistically expect more,” he said. “But there are entire departments in which no one wanted to step in.”
The professors invited students to join them, but only several anthropology majors attended with the group of professors. NU students were scattered throughout the rally, but Bushnell said there did not seem to be a large contingent of student protestors from NU.
“There are a few (here), but are there several thousand?” he asked. “Are there several hundred, even?”
More students should have been interested in the protest, Bushnell said, because “at the very least, big protests like this can be fun.”
Bushnell said part of the reason he and Lerner decided to place the ad was to publicize the protest to students.
“Our concern is that there have been so few protests within the Northwestern community against the war,” he said. “I don’t talk to my students about politics, but very few take part in the local protests in Evanston.”
Bushnell said NU’s quarter system might keep students too busy to get involved in the protest and the anti-war movement.
“They have midterms – in fact, my students have a midterm paper due Monday. Do I even want them to be here instead of writing it?” he joked.
But Schwartzman said she would not call NU students apathetic because many are involved in volunteering and other causes.
“There’s a lot of different ways to make a statement,” Schwartzman said. “I was in college in the ’60s, and there was not as much focus on volunteering and things like that – there was a lot more focus on this kind of in-the-street protesting. But then again, I was at Berkeley in the ’60s.”
Although she tries not to mix politics with her teaching, religion professor Sara Vaux said she felt that as a citizen, it was important to march in Saturday’s protest.
“I think we have to protest every day that we possibly can,” she said. “We have to end the war now.”
Some students who attended the rally said the professors’ ad was part of their motivation to participate.
“We were really impressed by the ad the professors put in the paper,” said Caroline Pinkston, a Weinberg senior. “Like they said in the ad, ‘We need to translate private sentiment into public action.’ “
Kate Goodman, a Weinberg senior, said she has been opposed to the war for a long time but that Saturday was her first protest. She and Pinkston, along with several other friends, put out flyers to help publicize the protest on campus.
Goodman said she was disappointed more students did not choose to attend.
“I think it’s generally assumed that professors are pretty liberal,” Goodman said. “But it’s sad that the impetus for this comes from the professors instead of from the students. More people should come out.”
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