On Nov. 17, 2005, Students Stand Up for Peace (SSUP) held their first event as an officially recognized student group. The event, a peace vigil, was held in conjunction with Earth Group and attended by members of Chester County Peace Movement (CCPM).Around 7:00 PM, students began arriving on the steps of Sykes. By 7:10, the steps were lined with more than 30 students, each with one hand holding a burning candle and the other protecting it from the bitter wind. At 7:30, Brian Fanelli, the President of Students Stand Up for Peace, called for a fifteen minute period of silence to honor the killed and wounded Americans and Iraqis overseas. Following the silence, the activists gathered together to share their thoughts and feelings about war and peace.
“As university students, its hard for us to recognize the impact of this war because some of us might be economically advantaged and we might not know people fighting or dying [in the war],” said Bridget Mulrooney, a member of both SSUP and Earth Group.
When asked about the purpose of SSUP, President Brian Fanelli explained, “We want to show that students are against the war and encourage them to show their dissent.” Additionally, Fanelli claimed, “Our group takes pride in interacting with the community.”
Chester County Peace Movement is a community group that developed in response and opposition to the war in Iraq. Karen Porter, the founder and director of the group, attended the peace vigil, “The one big misconception is that there is intent to get out of the war. There is no intention by the people that brought us in to get us out.”
Porter also explained that the CCPM is an extremely independent, free-standing organization.
The group holds vigils throughout Chester County including one every Saturday morning in front of the Chester County Courthouse on High and Market Streets at 10:30 AM.
Students Stand Up for Peace was created in the fall of 2002 when public belief was that war was imminent. During its first year as an un-recognized student group, members held weekly peace rallies at the corner of Rosedale and High Streets. SSUP is now officially recognized by West Chester University, and plans on holding many on-campus vigils and rallies.