The Faceoff: 'Naked for Peace' -A legitimate channel for expressing dissent?

By Matt Dubois

Wednesday afternoon, a group of students dedicated to ending the war in Iraq gathered on the College Green to bare all for the cause, forming a fleshy monument in the name of peace.

Some have their doubts as to the validity of the demonstration, however, calling it just a shameless excuse to get naked that failed to make the statement it intended to - namely to remind us all that war in Iraq is still being waged and that ending it should be important to us - and instead simply called attention to all the nudity. Surely, the demonstrators would have been better served expressing their beliefs through more scholarly and clothed channels.

Such naysayers couldn't be more wrong. If you saw someone naked in public, would you look? Whether you like it or not, the answer to that riddle is an unequivocal yes. Simply by getting naked in such a morally restrictive society as our own, in which sexuality and nudity are stigmatized - except in certain pop culture outlets where they are glorified - the demonstrators accomplished more than most people with a positive message can ever hope for: They got our attention.

Let's be realistic: Chalk messages, posters and even rallies are all well and good, but how often do they actually make a lasting impact on the average student? Within minutes we've repressed unpleasant thoughts of seemingly faraway concerns like the war and its casualties, and are back to the important stuff, like who's dominating whom at Scrabulous, and whether or not Lost will ever start to make any sense.

By refusing to be ignored, the student demonstrators on the Green did the impossible - they got us to focus entirely on them, and consequently on their message of peace. Some call their means extreme, but in a world desensitized to all but the most shocking of stimuli, I'd say they were just right. It speaks to our collective attention span that it takes a giant peace sign composed of naked bodies to wake us to our own nation's actions abroad, but I can't think of any better way.

By Sean Kaplan

Like many students here, I have very strong feelings about the war in Iraq. I feel that it will end up as one of the darkest chapters in American history and President Bush should be impeached and tried for war crimes.

That being said, the clothes-less students who decided to assemble in a large group on the College Green yesterday ultimately did not bring attention to their noble cause, but rather to themselves. Anyone who passes a group of naked people, regardless of their cause, will not remember it as a political statement, but simply as a bunch of naked people in public.

What these students did will not change anyone's viewpoints; if anything it will have a negative effect. If students want to inform people, they should attempt to talk to others and spread their viewpoints that way, rather than spreading themselves out without clothing. Making a display of images and articles summarizing the war could potentially be a great way to show others at Geneseo how these students feel, and could be useful to informing and involving others in their cause. Isn't that what this group of students wants to do?

I found the display today to be disturbing and embarrassing. There was no intelligent dialogue, just a bunch of naked students yelling "Naked for peace!" Although the group had good intentions, they made themselves look like idiots. On the other hand, students promoting sexual assault awareness had tables with information and displays stating why their cause was important. They provided a much more powerful and intelligent message.

Geneseo is supposed to be New York State's top public college. Students should be using their intelligence to productively work towards a cause, rather than lying in the middle of campus naked. What message does a naked peace sign send to a campus visitor? Not one that would make him or her want to hear a message about the war.

After all, a naked peace sign certainly isn't going to get us out of this Iraq mess.