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Some 300 to 400 students walked out of classes and assembled on the Lawn March 20 to ‘stand up for peace.’
Photo by Matt Kelly
Some 300 to 400 students walked out of classes and assembled on the Lawn March 20 to ‘stand up for peace.’

War — voices raised, alert high

Staff Report

The University community has joined the rest of the nation in moving to a higher state of alert and voicing strong opinions about the war being waged in Iraq.

Last week’s move to level “orange,” the second-highest alert status, was in sync with the federal government’s upgrade on March 18 and followed a path similar to an earlier “Code Orange” status on Feb. 7.

Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, assured members of the University community in a message March 18 that there had been no identified threat to U.Va. or to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. The University has taken steps to increase security on Grounds and at major events.

“You should maintain a heightened sense of awareness of your surroundings, and call 911 to report any suspicious activities, packages or people,” Sandridge advised students, faculty and staff.

Updates, resources and general information about the University’s emergency preparedness are available at

Through the first week of the war, reaction around Grounds ranged from vocal protest to quiet support, from scholarly debate to direct involvement.

As of Monday, six U.Va. employees had been called up from the reserves to active military duty, said Gary Helmuth, assistant director of HR Management Systems. Two are from Facilities Management, one each from the athletics department, the Darden School, the housing division and ITC. In addition, four from the Medical Center have been called.

Alan Cohn, U.Va.’s director of Employee Relations who retired from the reserves two years ago, said the war affects not only the employees who are activated but also their families. He asked people to be sensitive in their encounters with family members. Because they don’t live a military life every day – on a military base, for instance – family members may not be accustomed to their loved ones serving in active duty.

The repercussions of the conflict took center stage Monday night in a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute. U.Va. faculty members expressed emotions from shame to frustration regarding the war and the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

“The best thing would be to finish this war as quickly and cleanly as possible,” said religious studies professor James F. Childress.

A more boisterous gathering occurred March 20, when 300 to 400 students walked out of classes and assembled in the afternoon rain to chant and listen to speakers protesting the war.

The walkout and rally, organized by the University Anti-War Coalition and the Citizens Against

Global Exploitation, was coordinated with other protests in the community.
The front steps of Old Cabell Hall served as the speakers’ platform, as students clustered under the overhang to stay out of the cold, driving rain.

“We need to educate our apathetic peers,” third-year student Ian Amelkin, president of the University Democrats, told the crowd.

The rally, he said, should be a starting point to free people of their fear of speaking out. “We’ve been screaming about this for a year,” he said. “The most important thing you can do is speak out.”

Fourth-year student Ben Shanker reminded the crowd that while they were out in the rain protesting, students were still sitting in classrooms, not thinking about the war. The protestors needed to do something about that, he said.

“This is about community education,” he said. “They are not able to see things that are happening and we need to help them see it.”

Later, before leaving Grounds to join a protest in town, students marched through New Cabell Hall chanting anti-war slogans and seeking to draw students from their classes to join the protest.


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