UW-Madison students joined efforts with students from more than 130 universities across the United States Thursday, organizing a peace rally attended by approximately four hundred, as part of a National Student Day of Action.
The rally was an effort to pursue peaceful justice, end racial profiling and protect civil liberties in light of last week's terrorist attacks, according to Carl Camacho, a UW-Madison senior and MC of the event.
Florencia Mallon, a UW-Madison professor of Latin American studies and speaker at the rally, spoke of the rallying and protesting against the Vietnam War she participated in 30 years ago as a college student.
'If we want peace, we have to do the hard thing, which is to search for justice,' she said.
After the rally, students marched to the state Capitol, where they presented U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, with a petition imploring her to help stop the impending war.
Camacho said it was important for the United States to find a non-violent resolution to find a nonviolent resolution to Tuesday's attacks.
'Where does hate lead us to'? he asked. 'More hate. Violence? What does that do? ... The only way we can [stop a war] is to let our voice be heard and show that love is here.'
UW-Madison graduate student Christopher Khoury, co-chair of the Wisconsin chapter of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, spoke of his difficulties growing up as an Arab American in a non-diverse area of Detroit.
'The civil rights struggle in this country is far from over,' he said.
Tshaka Barrows, a UW-Madison senior, said the media were partly responsible for Americans' ignorance toward foreign policy.
'Who even has an idea of what American foreign policy is'? he asked. 'We have to become a smarter America after this year.'
Barrows said American citizens should feel the same pain they felt watching the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as when they see 'a bomb going off in a Third World nation.'
He said it was time for students to take on a leadership role in this country.
'It's time for you all to redefine what it means to be an American,' Barrows said. 'You all have to be the leaders of the 'New America.' They said after Tuesday, nothing's going to be the same. I hope for damn sure it's not going to be the same.'
The National Student Day of Action was started by students of Wesleyan University and the University of California at Berkeley.
Jennifer Caron, a student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasedena, Calif., and an organizer of the rally on her campus, estimated those present at the Caltech rally to be between 60 and 100 people.
'I think [peace protests] are definitely having an effect on the national media,' she said. 'I think there are people out there who don't want war and we're tapping into that.'
UW-Madison senior Brynn Sanders was among the many students who attended the rally. 'It's a good feeling to know that other people around me don't want to go to war either,' she said.
'I hope students will walk away with a commitment to work to build a peace movement here in Madison and in the larger nation,' said Daniel Long, a UW-Madison graduate student and speaker at the rally.
One of the rally's organizers, UW-Madison senior Molly McGrath said she wished its emphasis would have been different.
'I wish the focus would have been less anger towards the U.S. government, and more compassion towards reaching out to people in this tragedy and to stop war,' she said.
Camacho said he was satisfied with the outcome and the positive energy he felt from the crowd.
'This is just a start of a movement we have to make,' he said.