War means University preparations, protests
Administration and students react to war with Iraq
As a the war with Iraq looms on the other side of the world, UM is preparing for the worst.
“This time of unrest touches all of us, and has evoked questions, concerns, and fears,” Donna, E. Shalala, UM president, said in a mass email message to students and parents. “Your safety and well being is a top priority of everyone at the University of Miami – there are many student services that are available to help you cope, communicate, and support one another.”
Shalala says that UM has taken the necessary precautions to ensure student safety in the unlikely event of an immediate threat to the UM community.
“The University has an emergency plan ready to be activated if necessary,” Shalala said. “Our preparations include supplies of food and water, housing arrangements for students. In addition, our Convocation Center and Wellness Center are equipped to handle any campus evacuations if they were to become necessary.”
Dr. Pat Whitely, vice-president for student affairs, says that she has listened to student concerns and UM has accommodated them accordingly.
“I have held meetings with our student affairs department heads, chaplains, psychologists, and residential college faculty and staff,” Whitely said. “Extra security has been added to areas around campus and we are, of course, monitoring the situation.”
“Our staff are here to support students at any time,” Whitely said.
Despite the preparedness, students are still hesitant about war.
Reema Al, a Kuwaiti exchange student, says she believes that the world will be negatively affected regardless of whether war ensues.
“If there is no war, then Saddam Hussein will continue to be a threat,” Al said. “However, war always yields loss of life.”
Officers and members of the UM College Democrats say they are completely opposed to the war with Iraq.
“The University of Miami College Democrats stand firm with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in condemning President Bush for failing to exercise all diplomatic channels at his disposal and mercilessly dragging our youth to war,” said Christian G. Wilson, president of UM College Democrats. “We have no reservations in engaging in civil disobedience to show our disdain for such immoral action.”
According to Wilson, UM students are generally against a conflict in the Middle East, and hundreds of students have supported the anti-war demonstrations held on Feb. 18 and March 4.
“We believe, to ease geopolitical tensions, that diplomatic channels much be exercised without threat of conflict,” Wilson said. “Students believe a genuine diplomatic effort was never even undertaken when, for months, hundreds of thousands of troops have been within miles of the Iraqi border.”
“Is this diplomacy? No – it’s blackmail,” Wilson said.
Xavier Jimenez, president for Amnesty International at UM, recalls a moment that influenced him significantly.
“I recall a vision of one lone Chinese student at Tiananmen Square who thought he could stop a tank all by himself,” Jimenez said. “This is how I feel now, but I have a moral obligation as a citizen to go through with this.”
Shalala encourages students to work together and be considerate of one another.
“Our community is very diverse,” Shalala said. “Many of our students come from far away lands. We must remember that we are all part of this extraordinary University family.”
“Reach out to your fellow students, especially our Middle Eastern students, who are very far away from home – we need each other’s support,” Shalala said. “Together, we will get through this difficult time and be a stronger University.”
To answer any questions or concerns that students, family, faculty and staff may have, UM has recently enacted an emergency hotline: 305-284-5151 or 1-800-227-0354.
Additionally, the UM website, www.miami.edu, will be updated with vital campus information as details become available. UM College Democrats can be contacted at www.umdems.com.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.