Liacouras Walk was filled on Monday with protestors and demonstrators both in support and in opposition to the Iraq war.
On one side of the Walk, faculty members gathered to read an academic speech in commemoration of the third anniversary of the war in Iraq.
On the other side of the Walk, the Temple College Republicans tried to convince passersby to support the troops in Iraq by writing letters to them.
March 20 marked the date of the worldwide event titled “The Anniversary of the Political Lie.” Similar anti-war protests were organized in various locations across the globe. The reading took place yesterday in 15 other cities including Athens, Berlin, Calcutta, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Prague and New York.
Professor Dennis Lebofsky coordinated the reading with the aid of professor Ralph Flood. Both belong to the university’s English department.
“It is an honor for Philadelphia, more specifically Temple, to be holding the same event that is taking place in many of the major cities around the world and be a representative for this cause,” Lebofsky said.
Faculty members who organized the protest spent approximately $250 to $300 on posters and fliers, sound equipment and a podium. Senior law and business major Logan Fisher, chairman of the Temple College Republicans, said he has mixed feelings about the faculty’s rally.
“I would not imagine this to be an appropriate venture for an academic department, who is now sending a clear partisan message to students,” Fisher said. “Perhaps they justified their sponsorship because they plan on reading something.”
The professors’ protest consisted of an academic reading of “What I Heard about Iraq,” written by Eliot Weinberger. Weinberger is a poet, translator and essayist best known for translating a Noble Prize-winning piece by Octavio Paz.
Mostly faculty members read the speech and very few students participated, although a group of students did stop to listen. One student who stopped was overheard whispering to himself, “These people have nothing better to do,” when he realized what the speech was about and began yelling as the professors continued to read out loud.
“What I Heard About Iraq” is Weinberger’s collection of quotes said by President Bush, as well as many other government officials before and after the eruption of war.
Professor of education Gloria C. Endres held up fliers while waiting in line to read. They read “Impeach! This time it has nothing to do with sex,” and “God Bless America with a better president.”
Spectators gathered on both sides and made comments about their contesters. Ann Marie Rubbo is a student who read excerpts from “What I Heard about Iraq.” She is a peace activist and said she has been arrested twice during protests at the beginning of the war.
“Your brothers and sisters are dying,” Rubbo said while passing the College Republicans before the speech began. “Young people are so naive.”
“We’re just here to support the troops,” said Jack Posobiec, second vice chairman of the College Republicans. “This isn’t about yelling at teachers or students.”
Professor Robert Weinberg from the physics department said that he has been with Temple for 37 years. Weinberg has been involved in many other demonstrations on campus over the years, including demonstrations over civil rights, women’s rights and the Vietnam War.
“I don’t think that I’d bring the event up to my class, but if one of my students sees me out there and asks me about it during class, I’d surely address it then,” Weinberg said.
Cheryl Miller, a business and management student, said: “I heard about this speech on the Web, and I think it is great that the professors are here. This really shows us both sides of the coin.”
The College Republicans handed out fliers with their version of “Here Is What We Heard.” One quotation was from former President Clinton dated Feb. 17, 1998. “If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program,” Clinton said.
Megan Kelsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.