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Event Evokes Dialogue on Military Action

Members of the Coalition to End the Cycle of Violence emphasized that being anti-war does not imply that someone is anti-American.

Members of the Coalition to End the Cycle of Violence organized the event to vocalize opinions against the war and espouse the message that being anti-war does not imply anti-American sentiments.

Graduate student Michal Osterweil emceed the event, speaking over the buzz of passers-by and student election campaign activity to introduce speakers, musicians and skit participants.

Osterweil, standing behind a podium bearing a "Patriotic and Protesting" sign, reminded the evolving crowd that the coalition's stance is a positive one that contends that there are socially just alternatives to military action.

"We are trying to present that war is not the only choice," Osterweil said. "We are not here speaking against our country. ... We're looking for an end to injustice and an end to terrorism."

Members of the coalition garnered attention in October for chanting and marching down Franklin Street denouncing the U.S. military response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On Wednesday, speeches about the terror of war were interspersed with open-mic sessions and mock billion-dollar-question rounds of "You're in ... Jeopardy."

Osterweil encouraged anyone, regardless of political stance, to weigh in on the issue of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. While a handful of students spoke to the crowd about the need for a military response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the mood of the event rarely became openly contentious.

Graduate student Tanya Golash, who took the mic to express anti-war and anti-terrorist sentiments, said she was impressed with how people from both sides of the issue were able to talk about the war without expressing hostility. "I don't think this could have happened on September 15," she said.

Counter-demonstrators also established a presence at Wednesday's event, hanging posters, setting up American flags and playing a patriotic CD from the edge of the Pit.

Senior Michael Jenkins, who sat by posters stating "UNC Supports Our Troops" and "Security Not Vengeance," said he helped set up the patriotic display to expose people to a conservative viewpoint on the issue.

"As liberal as I am politically, I do think military intervention is appropriate in this conflict," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he did, however, applaud the coalition's initiative in exercising the right to freedom of speech.

Freshman Daniel Goodstadt, who filled a break between classes by listening to some of the event, said he liked that the contentious issue was being addressed in the Pit.

"I'm glad people are out here discussing it in a civil manner," he said.

But junior Billy Corriher said the liberal views expressed at the attention-drawing event falsely characterized the mainstream opinion held by the University community. "I don't think the people out here are representative of the whole campus."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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