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   The Student Worker Teacher Alliance (SWTA) and the College Republicans, two of the most vocal student politicalorganizations on campus, collided for the second time this semesterin an afternoon rally at the Sombrilla meant to politicallyenergize the student body.

   Students had received flyers for an anti-war demonstration organized by the SWTA the day before.  By 11:00a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, both pro-war and anti-war banners weredisplayed over the JPL balcony.

   Demonstrators, numbering a few dozen on each side, echoed some of the arguments that have divided the countrysince the US invasion of Iraq. 

   The SWTA, a nonpartisan alliance for students,workers and teachers, stressed its opposition to both of thepresidential candidates.

   “We are anti-Bush and we are anti-Kerry,” said undeclared freshman Mary Anne Henderson, a member of the SWTA.  “We don’t believe our soldiers should be there (in Iraq and Afghanistan), and we don’t believe Bush or Kerry is the answer to the problem.”

 

   They began the rally by assembling signs andchanting slogans such as “Tell me what democracy lookslike,” and “Pro-war is anti-soldier.”

   The College Republicans’ setup includeda donation table for American troops oversees. 

“We’ve been here for 30 minutes, and they (the SWTA) haven’t made any donations to the troops,” said RussHargraves, vice chair of the College Republicans.

   The College Republicans were largely Bush supporters who said that the administration’s policies in Iraq andAfghanistan were just.  They said the war was being fought byan all volunteer army to secure peace in theregion.   

   “We’re showing our support for the troops,” said business freshman Ryan Gardner, “and there’s no backdoor draft.”

   Hargraves said that of the College Republicans who stood over the JPL balcony, three were former soldiers who were stationed in Iraq.

 

   “I think it’s funny that they came and shook our hands and not theirs,” Hargravessaid. 

   For a couple hours, the two groups shot backat each other. 

   “You say ‘we support our troops,’ we say ‘we support the lives of ourtroops,” said American studies senior Clay Huckins,who helped organize the event. 

   “We’re tired of this system that students, workers, and teachers are being subjected to,” Huckins said.  “It’s time for us as a people to stand up against this hypocrisy of democracy.”

   A few students moved from both setups to debate election issues one-on-one.

   They debated the long term domestic andinternational implications of a preemptive strike, and ways tosecure the peace in Iraq after ridding the country of Saddam Hussein.

 “The most important reason, I think for dialogue, is that it forcespeople to think and to stand up for their beliefs, and also tothink critically about their beliefs,” said anthropology graduate student, Chris Gieseke.  “But at the same time, there’s a fine line between dialogue and arguing.”

 

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