When students walked into class one Tuesday last semester, they knew it was going to be different than usual. Professors Sherri Porcelain and Miriam Klein Kassenoff had moved their classes to a different location, and cameras were all over the room.
But when 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel walked in, the collective “Oooh!” displayed the awe of the students sitting in the room.
“The class before we were talking about his book Night [Wiesel’s autobiographical novel about the Holocaust] and all of a sudden he just walks in there,” Rajiv Nijhawan, junior, said. “It was totally unexpected.”
Wiesel’s visit was arranged by and taped for the mtvU series Stand-in, where celebrities make surprise appearances as professors for a class.
Wiesel focused on the worldwide indifference toward the mass genocides occurring in Sudan and Rwanda, relating them to his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference,” Wiesel said. “An ethical person is one who is not indifferent.”
Darfur, in Sudan, has been in conflict since February 2003. More than 200,000 people have died and two million have been displaced.
Wiesel’s advice to college students was simple.
“When you read about an injustice, always take the side of the victims,” he said. “Your silence or indifference will never hurt the killer, only the victim.”
MtvU called for students across the nation to raise awareness and act upon the Sudan crisis.
Wiesel said he believes that students can spark change through their actions.
“Remember one thing. The century is not mine. It’s yours,” Wiesel said.
For more information visit www.mtvU.com.
Megha Garg can be contacted at