Activists are a constant presence for the masses of students that pass the College Green each day. These noticeable students are a relatively small group with a prominent voice on campus. They are stationed at a table representing Students for a Peaceable Solution in Iraq, an organization not officially recognized by the college, which seeks to promote awareness about the conflict in Iraq.
"We thought it was a good idea to be out here as a presence on campus, to remind people there is a war going on," said junior Molly Kerker, who noted that she is usually sitting at the table about two hours a day. The amount of time spent at the table varies by person. According to junior Colin Waters, "The level of involvement is up to the individual."
Fiona Murray, a junior, is involved in a number of organizations that seek to raise awareness about various issues, including the voter registration project "Think Globally, Vote Locally" and the student discussion group Infoshare.
"We're abusing our privilege by not speaking out about something that we think is wrong," Murray said. "It's important to have a say. It's not just the school's campus, it's our campus as well."
Next to the table is a sign that the group regularly updates to indicate the Iraq War death tolls of Iraqi citizens as well as American soldiers. Though it is clear that all members in the group desire an end to the war in Iraq, the members strongly emphasize the fact that SPSI is a nonpartisan group and is open to all ideological viewpoints. Kerker added, "We don't want to turn people away from creating a dialogue [about the issues]... everyone, even those with differing opinions, are welcome."
On Friday, Sept. 21, the group handed out white armbands with peace signs to students to show support for the International Day of Peace. Waters, among other members, hung signs around campus to promote the day's significance and congregated at the peace vigil that evening. "These armbands don't have to stand for just peace in Iraq, but also all around the world," Kerker said.
Though making themselves known on campus through their ever-present table has increased student consciousness, the group is planning to expand their efforts. "'Tabling' is a good means of creating awareness, but not the only means," Murray said. "It's one thing to create awareness, but another thing to create change."
In the future, members plan to spread information by chalking sidewalks and writing on whiteboards around campus. SPSI holds weekly peace vigils on Thursdays and joined with Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace on Saturday, Sept. 29 to march for the Village of Geneseo's 175th anniversary.
Members sitting at the table noted that the group receives some opposition, but according to Kerker, this is partially because "the word 'peaceable' throws people off - people have different opinions about how to create peace."
Though protesters typically have a reputation for being boisterous, the group maintains that yelling is not an effective means of communication. "It's more important for people to understand what's going on instead of having ideas thrown at them," noted Kerker. After last year's vigil, she acknowledged, those involved had a rally that "got loud, but that was a one-time thing."
Interested students are encouraged to participate at Infoshare meetings, held Sundays at 7 p.m. in Milne 105 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.