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Snapshots of UC Berkeley students in a time of war

Every few days, NewsCenter staff approach students at random, in different locations around campus, and ask them to share their thoughts and emotions about the tumultuous events taking place in the world. Every student willing to respond is quoted and included on this page with only minimal editing. Yet since this series began, the NewsCenter has received several e-mails complaining of bias in the responses: one says the students selected are too pro-war, while another alleges that they are unpatriotic and unsupportive of U.S. troops. The lesson? UC Berkeley students are as diverse in their opinions as the general population: we can't predict what they will say, and we shouldn't presume that we can. Comment

How does war with Iraq affect you personally?

April 10, 2003:

'I have mixed emotions about the war. I'm really critical of the media. The media has a big effect on what we perceive — we can't trust what's being given to us. Yesterday we saw all these images of the U.S. "liberating" Baghdad, putting the U.S. flag on that statue of Saddam Hussein, but then the Iraqis were like, No, take that down, and the soldiers put up the Iraqi flag instead. Were they cheering because U.S. soldiers are there or because the regime is over? I don't know. I guess yesterday was a turning point in the war, but who can be sure. I'm in a state of confusion. One minute we were after Osama Bin Laden; the next, Saddam Hussein. There was no transition.'
—Mina Sisouvong, third-year double major in art history and mass communications, outside Doe Library. Hometown: San Diego, CA
Mina Sisouvong

Erik Kemp
'Obviously here we're pretty detached from it all. It doesn't affect me personally, except that I don't feel that violence is ever a legitimate means to an end. We see pictures of Baghdad citizens dancing in the streets, but we have to take into account the media bias. Is it possible to impose democracy? I think it's great that Saddam Hussein is gone, but I worry what our commitment is going to be in Iraq. Despite all our promises, we pulled out of Afghanistan so quickly. Now the country is being run by warlords. I wonder if we are really committed to the rhetoric of rebuilding as Bush is saying, or whether we just have more mercenary motives like oil.'
—Erik Kemp, fourth-year political science major, outside Pat Brown's Grille. Hometown: Fairfield, CA

'Well, student fees have gone up, which affects me — Bush is putting all the money into the war instead of investing in education. The economy was already bad and now it's going to get worse. I hear fees are going up $400 next semester. I really don't like what's going on. I don't agree with this war in the first place.'
—Jasmine Mora, first-year political science and Spanish major, at Lower Sproul Plaza. Hometown: Los Angeles
 Jasmine Mora

 John Lee
'It affects the atmosphere on campus — it's not as jovial as it was before the war started. There's this air that war should be stopped, and if you don't agree, then there's also this pressure to support the war. Even after 9/11, I didn't personally feel so many effects, but ever since then it has been harder to concentrate and to motivate myself. It kind of stays in the back of your head.'
—John Lee, fourth-year major in electrical engineering & computer science, at Lower Sproul Plaza. Hometown: Culver City, CA

'Personally it hasn't affected me much, other than I have been worried about what the future is going to be like. Maybe that's because I'm an integrative biology major, and we're too concentrated on our science classes and getting ready for midterms. We might as well not even know the war was happening.'
—Jaya Jacobs, third-year integrative biology major, outside Moffitt Library. Hometown: Monterey, CA
 Jaya Jacobs

April 1, 2003:

'I feel for the most part the public is uninformed about the war. It's hard to know who to trust — whether the media is portraying the war accurately. Nobody except those few people on the inside have the real story about what's going on. As an American citizen, I'm putting my trust in the President and I feel comfortable with that. Regardless of whether we agree with the war, we should be supporting and praying for our President rather than bashing him. I'm sure war isn't something he asked or hoped for, but as our country's leader he has to take care of this. We should support him. I also feel saddened at the amount of deaths, even though so far it's small compared to other wars. I don't like war, but I don't like dictatorships either.'
—Evan Rosa, second-year undeclared major, at Upper Sproul Plaza. Hometown: San Diego, CA


 Camille Pannu
'It scares me. The first community to experience a backlash when we invaded Afghanistan was the Sikh community, of which I am a member. There's already been hate crimes reported, and I wish the campus would address this. I also worry about the repercussions of the war on foreign policy and our relations with the rest of the world.'
—Camille Pannu, first-year undeclared major (Political Economy of Industrial Societies intended), near Doe Library. Hometown: Moraga, CA.

'It's a big deal. It involves everyone. I've been deeply affected by knowing our troops are over there in danger, and that innocent people are dying. But I think what we're doing is the right thing — we need to go in there and get rid of Saddam Hussein. In the end, even though we're worried about friends and family, this is something we need to do.'
—James Gallagher, fourth-year political science major, at Upper Sproul Plaza. Hometown: East Nicolaus, CA.
james Gallagher


'I don't know anyone over there or going over there, but I think it is affecting everyone. It's such a change of foreign policy in the world, the U.S. being the aggressor. I’m taking a Peace and Conflict Studies class right now and we’re just talking about past wars and how easy it is to see this as a trend — the U.S. going off somewhere to free people from oppression. It's a powerful idea, and a lot of people buy into it. At the same time, it's hard for me to say that we're the right people to do that. The war also affects me in how I think about how it affects the world community — us going over the head of the United Nations, undermining the world community. I hope we can turn that around after the war and not be this unilateral power.'
—Matt Detar, fourth-year rhetoric major, on Lower Sproul Plaza. Hometown: Corvallis, OR.

March 26, 2003:

'I have two small children, so I have to explain to my five-year-old what's going on in the world in little-people terms. It's hard. The war is depressing, it makes it hard to study and hard to concentrate. School just seems insignificant. It all makes me want to go home - like whenever something bad happens, you want to call your mother so you can feel safe.'
—Dina Hunt, fourth-year civil engineering major, in the Bechtel Engineering Center. Hometown: New Orleans, LA.
Dina Hunt

Andy Amacher
'It's disappointing to me, how we are looking to the world, how they are seeing the U.S. Here at Berkeley, you hear the other side. I think it's a stupid, silly war. It would have been nice to have U.N. approval, to do something diplomatically for a change. One thing is, I'll never vote the Green Party again: this has definitely taught me to choose the lesser of two evils.'
—Andy Amacher, Ph.D. candidate in environmental science, policy and management, outside Mulford Hall. Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA.

'Although it doesn't affect me personally, it's around me, it's part of my reality. It's kind of overwhelming because we can't stop the war. I'm anti-war. I actually made a shirt that says "Peace" on the sleeve and on the back it says, "Whatever war can do, peace can do better." My roommate likes it, but my mom says that if I wear it out I might get attacked.'
—Chung-Hay Luk, second-year bioengineering major, in the Naval Architecture Building. Hometown: Lafayette, CA.
Chung-Hay Luk

March 24, 2003:

Craig Attencio
'It only affects me in a general way, having concerns for my fellow Americans and their safety. As for being fearful personally, no, I'm just a tad apprehensive. I'm behind what we're doing in Iraq. I think it's right. I just hope there aren't inordinate numbers of casualties on our side.'
—Craig Attencio, bioengineering Ph.D. candidate, outside Wurster Hall. Hometown: Sacramento, CA

'The war affects me largely through my boyfriend, who is Israeli. He worries about his friends and family at home more than anything. For me, it's a big issue. I debate and talk to other people a lot about it. I wasn't sure if I would come to Berkeley this time, whether it was safe to fly.'
—Claire Musch, fourth-year legal-studies student visiting from University College of Utrecht, the Netherlands, at the International House Café.
Claire Musch

March 21, 2003:

Edwin Shew
"My older brother is in the war right now. He's in the Marine Corps Reserve, and he went to Kuwait a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't feel like actual war to me yet — it's only a couple of days in and we're winning, not that many casualties. I've been watching the news a lot, every time there's a reported casualty like the helicopter crash I worry. They haven't released the names yet. But there's like 250,000 troops there so chances are it's not my brother. My mom is trying to act extra-normal, make everyone in the family feel OK. I don't think the full weight has gotten to me yet. "

—Edwin Shew, second-year Engineering Undeclared major, at the Bechtel Engineering Center terrace. Hometown: San Francisco

"I was supposed to go abroad this summer, to Amsterdam. Now I'm not sure I will, for safety reasons. If they don't cancel the program, I'll go, but my friends are worried about it. Me and my friends discuss the war, but it's not affecting my everyday life so much. I guess right now there's nothing happening here in the United States, but there might be later on."

—Candace Williams, third-year political science major, at Upper Sproul Plaza. Hometown: Richmond, CA.
Candace Williams

Severin Perez
"It doesn't affect me personally on a high level yet. I'm not thinking so much about the political consequences, but about the troops over there and hoping they come home safe. Overall most people here have been pretty supportive and understanding of why [ROTC students] do what we do — they recognize that everyone has a right to join if they want."

—Severin Perez, second-year political science major, at Upper Sproul Plaza. Hometown: Palo Alto, CA.

March 19, 2003:

David Copenhafer
"I'm depressed, concerned, worried about Iraqi deaths. I think the real war is the war on terrorism. This war is kind of an adjunct to that. I can only imagine there will be reprisals — whether against Europe, Israel, or the United States, I don't know. Is the Bay Area a likely candidate for terrorism? On a nuts and bolts level, I'm not so worried. But I do have friends in New York and Washington, D.C., and I worry about them. We need a total re-thinking of U.S. foreign policy designed to diminish the likelihood of terrorism."

—David Copenhafer, Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature, at Dwinelle Plaza

"I'm worried about my personal safety, that of my classmates, and of the people in Iraq. I already don't feel safe as a Muslim woman on this campus. After 9/11, we experienced a lot of hate crimes and it's only going to get worse. I'm from Ohio, and at home our mosque was severely vandalized and had to be closed for a year. It's better here — the Bay Area is a bastion of tolerance, especially Berkeley. If there's anywhere in the U.S. I should feel safe, it's here. But I don't. I'm not confident that these problems are going to be addressed."

—Nadia Yousef, fourth-year student in architecture, at Sproul Plaza
 Nadia Yousef

 Patricia Hon
"I don't feel the real implications have caught up with me yet. Personally, I don't feel the war is warranted, and I'm afraid it will affect the safety of civilians. I'm not so worried about being here, but the war increases the risk that anywhere in the United States could become a target."

—Patricia Hon, fourth-year student in integrative biology, at the Tang Center


For a list of campus resources, see the War with Iraq site.