Students reflect on success of protest

March 13, 2003, midnight | By Laura Blythe-Goodman | 21 years, 3 months ago

The recent visit to Blair by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Secretary of Education Rod Paige led to a protest against both the war and the implications of Ridge's visit.

Some students, such as freshman Gabriela Diaz, were at the protest to show their opposition to all of the issues concerning Ridge's visit. "I don't think there should be a war and we don't need security stuff; it's unnecessary," said Diaz.

One reason senior Spencer Lee attended the protest was his concern about the role of the Department of Homeland Security and "the liberties it's taking with my civil liberties."

Junior Ben Austin-Docampo was worried that the image of the protest was not accurately portrayed. "I felt that sometimes the message was conveyed incorrectly by the media. They seemed to turn it into an anti-war protest at its core, when really that was an off-shoot," said Austin-Docampo.

Austin-Docampo acknowledges that one cause for this confusion could be the different motivations of the protesters. "At first I was concerned that the reason we were being misconstrued was because protestors were being vague."

Austin-Docampo thinks the protest against the war was a good cause, but that the main focus was for "protesting Tom Ridge being there and what he stood for, which is the rollback of civil liberties and the idea of a branch of government that only exists because our incessant war mongering."

The protest march around the school, beginning in the SAC and ending with the students sitting in front of the University entrance, was the first of its kind. "We've never had an event at [the new] Blair where we had a protest at school or a march around school," said Austin-Docampo. "We weren't sure how it was going to go or how security was going to react to us."

At the conclusion of the protest, Social Studies teacher George Vlasits convinced most of the students to clear the University Blvd. entrance to the school and go back to classes to spread awareness of the cause. "There are a good 3000 students who are not out here and we need to talk to each and every one of them," said Vlasits.

In his speech to conclude the protest, Vlasits said he thought the protest went "as far as it should have gone today" and was satisfied with the effectiveness of the protest. "The point was made that there are students at Blair that are opposed to war and opposed to the visit of members of the administration who represent that war and its policies," Vlasits said.

Austin-Docampo was also happy with how well the protest turned out, admitting, however, that it was not as well organized as similar events have been. "I felt that Friday was a success, especially considering the limited time we had to plan," said Austin-Docampo.

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Laura Blythe-Goodman. Laura is a senior this year. In her spare time, she learns how to play the guitar and talks to Emma. More »

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