A new University of Miami organization, Genocide Ends Today (GET), is encouraging student activism and endeavoring to fight attitudes of indifference toward ethnic cleansing campaigns.
The organization is two months old and has approximately 50 members. One of its primary concerns is raising awareness on campus about genocide in places such as Darfur, where an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people have died in the past five years.
GET was inspired by local filmmaker Michael Pertnoy, who met with several students at UM’s Hillel at the beginning of the spring semester.
Pertnoy is working on a documentary entitled The Last Survivor, which examines past and present genocides in the world. His production company, Righteous Pictures, is also cosponsoring a genocide awareness event called reACT, which is next week.
After the meeting, the students felt compelled to promote Pertnoy’s event and documentary as well as establish a campus organization specifically dedicated to genocide.
Freshman Tyler Baram became one of the group’s organizers.
“People never thought I’d do something like this,” said Baram, a former club promoter, who spent most of his weekends in South Beach during his first semester. He decided over winter break to come back to school with a new mindset and now encourages others to “get their priorities straight.”
“I think it’s pathetic that people worry about the drink that they’re getting at Starbucks when a kid in Darfur can’t get water,” he said.
Baram said GET is presently “under the wing of Hillel,” where meetings are hosted every Thursday at 6 p.m., but he and other members eventually want the organization to be independent.
Spreading genocide awareness has not been easy for the organization. GET organizer Sandy Moskovitz said many students see T-shirts with a Save Darfur emblem and ask, “Is that a rock band?”
GET also had a “run-in” with campus authorities one night while using chalk to write genocide facts on campus sidewalks. The officers wanted to charge the participants with vandalism.
Baram said they were able to “keep out of getting into any serious trouble” by explaining the purpose and importance of the activity. Eventually, they even got the officers’ support, he said.
GET is currently creating partnerships with other campus organizations such as Quantum Film Society to create genocide awareness ads similar to the smoking awareness ads created by the national Truth campaign.
Victoria Genuardi may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
reACT is this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. Survivors of the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust are keynote speakers. Pertnoy will be filming the event for his documentary. Baram said GET will provide bus service for UM students. Seven other Miami colleges are expected to attend.