Exam Period: Students Face Realities of War
As American bombers continued their missions over Iraq, the Harvard campus remained quiet and somber yesterday afternoon.
Despite loud marches against the raids and prayer vigils for the soldiers, most students interviewed said they had resigned themselves to the reality of war--or weren't really worried to being with--and were concentrating on personal concerns instead.
Many students expressed frustration that President Bush ordered an American strike so soon after the United Nations Jan. 15 deadline. But most students interviewed around campus yesterday said they still supported the troops and would back the President's efforts.
Standing amid puddles and dirty slush filling the Yard, Bill C. Kessler '91 and Charles E. Ehrlich '91 said they felt the time for protest had passed.
"We need to be supportive of the troops," said Kessler, a Winthrop House resident. "The spirit of the rallies is insensitive. It's hard to attack the government without attacking the troops."
Carrie L. Suzawa '91 said that although she had known war was "almost definite," she was still shocked by the suddenness of the American air invasion.
But without any personal stake in the conflict, she said she found it difficult to take a strong stance on the war.
"Although I feel ambivalent, I do support what we're doing," said Suzawa. "There will be death, but there is justification."
After hearing the news Wednesday night, Suzawa said she was touched while watching the video "Glory" with some male friends that night.
"It hit me then," said Suzawa, a Kirkland House resident. "`Glory' was probably the worst thing to watch that night, with all the blood and guts. Watching that with some people who might be drafted, it made you realize death is really going on."
"I think war is dehumanizing, hearing cold terms like losses and casualties to describe injuries and death," said Eliot House resident Matthew Barmack '92. "But to be honest, it hasn't sunken in. I think it's something we had to do."
At the Quincy House grille, Karen J. Hullenburg '93 took a break from studying the works of Adam Smith to ponder the war. While video Games and foosball matches continued uninterrupted nearby, Hullenburg said she thought Americans should support the war now that the fighting has started.
"We have to support them," said Hullenburg, adding that her rooming group is split on the war. "To pull out makes it worthless, Whether we were right or wrong."
Some, like Timothy P. McCarthy '93, said they have changed their minds about the conflict over the last few months. McCarthy said Bush's speech yesterday convinced him that war was the right choice.
"Last night, listening to George Bush, I respected a world leader more than I ever had before," said McCarthy, who has a friend serving with the ground troops in Saudi Arabia. "He ran his election on sticking to his guns, and he came through on the promise."
Both McCarthy and Hullenburg said the conflict has been keeping them away from studies, even as their exams approach.
"I figure I'll get a `B,' and with a few more hours of study, a `B-plus,'" McCarthy said. "It's not worth the cost of ignoring current events. It seems like a nerdy thing to do."
While staunchly supportive of the troops and the action, Scott D. Davis '92 said the conflict made it difficult to concentrate on his studies.
"It's hard to take your finals seriously," said Davis. "It's troublesome when you know people are going to die."
Life Goes On
Others said they supported the effort, but noted that life and exams must go on.
"It was the right thing to do," said Stephen D. Trafton '92, returning from his varsity crew workout. "If it comes to a draft, I would serve. But right now, I'm studying rather than worrying about it."
While most students were supportive of the war effort, many said they expect the issue to have an extremely divisive impact on campus.
"Feelings vary from house to house," said Eliot House resident Thomas J. Tucker '91, who said supports the troops. "There was applause for a vigil supporting the troops in the [Eliot House] dining hall. But that's definitely a stronger advocacy than I have for the war."
Adams House resident Eugene Stern '92 agreed that opinion seems to be split along house lines.
"Adams may be trying to set a record for the most arrests in protests," said Stern, who feels the U.S. should have given the sanctions against Iraq more time to work.
"I want to be pissed off about it in private," Stern said. "It doesn't seem like this is the right time to yell and scream."