The War in Iraq has killed upwards of 10,000 soldiers and civilians. This coming week, on April 27 there will be a mass Die-In on the Academic Quad at 12:10 p.m. The Die-In is the brain-child of Tyler Bradway who, while watching a Marine trapped under debris on CNN, decided that it was time to end his silent acceptance and make a statement to memorialize the dead. With the close help of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Alliance (LGBTA) president Meg Panichelli and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) president Kristen Gross, Bradway has organized this mass peace demonstration to show that West Chester University remembers the dead from the Iraq war, including American and Iraqi military and the gross number of civilians who have lost their lives in this action.The organizers encourage all who oppose the loss of innocent lives to come out and pay their respects. The names of the United States Military dead will be read aloud. Stickers with numbers on them will be handed out to participants, who will then lie down on the Academic Quad for a moment of silent remembrance. Information pamphlets will also be handed out including statistics and facts about the losses in Iraq.
Bradway and his fellow planners hope to see 700 students and faculty lay down in silence and if nothing else get people, even those who do not participate, to think, and in thinking, to talk about the situation in Iraq. Panichelli said, “Some people may agree with war . . . some people may believe in war as a solution, but I can’t believe anyone thinks its okay for innocent people to lose lives. That’s what this Die-In is about. We want to show [our] stance against this war, we want to lie down for the people who have lost their lives and say we don’t want more deaths.”
The purpose of the Die-In is to encourage students and faculty to no longer just turn the TV off, but to pay respect and support the idea that a peaceful conclusion is possible. Above all, the event will be highly respectful to those who have died.
The Die-In will occur on the grassy areas between the Francis Harvey Green Library and Main Hall. The entire event should take around a half hour at most, but students are asked to stop by if only for a few minutes in between classes to participate. Organizers are hoping to get the event recognized locally by inviting news crews and notifying the local papers. What the students and faculty hope to do is to reach the neighboring area and get people off campus to speak with one another about the events that are taking place and no longer accept the outcome without question.
Members of the now defunct “Students for Peace” are also trying to reunite through this peace demonstration. Members of LGBTA and FMLA will be present.
“United we can channel the passion and activism felt on this campus to make a clear and definitive statement that the West Chester University community believes in peace,” Bradway said in his plea for support. The event will have no speeches and is not a venue for personal glorification, only an opportunity to join as a community that believes that the dead must be remembered.
When asked why it was important for West Chester University to take this stand Bradway said, “The more community involved in making a statement will only make the statement stronger.” This community goes further than just students and faculty. The Chester County Peace Movement has also been helpful in supporting this display for peace and remembrance. The organizers said collaboration has been vital to the success of this project. Many people provided support by spreading the word and offering ideas.
Organizers and supporters know that by lying in the Quad they will not end the war and bring loved ones home to families. They just hope to symbolize those who have lost their lives and stimulate discussion on campus and off. By participating in the Die-In, Panichelli said, “We are making people aware of what’s going on, by us doing this Die-In Bush isn’t going to call everything off, we know that, but we are reaching people’s minds, making them question the morality of this, motivating them to research, find their own position, taking their own stand, collecting as a group. Something is happening, something will stir in every one of us, even if it is not conscious.”
More information on the casualties and violence is available at iraqbodycount.net. Bradway, Panichelli and Gross welcome questions and can be reached at TB372661@wcupa.edu, MP387778@wcupa.edu, or FMLAWCU@hotmail.com, respectively.
They ask that the word be spread about the Die-In. All are invited to participate.