Twenty-one Bowdoin students joined an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 protesters in a march on Washington D.C. to protest the Iraq war last Saturday.
The Bowdoin students' trip to the protest was organized by Bowdoin Students for Peace and the Midcoast Maine Peace and Justice Group. Accompanying students to the protest were many Maine residents.
Experiences of Bowdoin students who attended the protest were generally positive.
"Although I do not agree with everything that was being protested, I enjoyed witnessing and participating in displays of dissent against an administration that has certainly made errors," said Lincoln Pac '08. "The actions of the protestors would not be tolerated in many countries, and the fact that they can occur nearly unopposed in the U.S. was powerful for me to observe."
Bowdoin's participation in the event was co-organized by sophomores Sara Schlotterbeck and Merry Segal.
"It was amazing for us to be a part of something so big, and we are all thrilled to have had the opportunity to go," said Schlotterbeck.
Reasons for attending the protest varied among Bowdoin students, but they were all united by the goal of ending the war in Iraq.
"The official purpose of the protest was to end the war in Iraq and there is a diversity of opinions even in our group as to how that should be done," Schlotterbeck said. "The one thing that we can all agree on is that the United States is on a disastrous path and needs to change its course and start working for peace for the people of Iraq. This is all we were asking."
The broad range of opinions and reasons for wanting the war to end was evident by the variety of groups involved in the protest, according to Schlotterbeck. Seasoned groups like Veterans for Peace marched alongside groups like the National Organization for Women.
According to the United for Peace web site (http://www.unitedforpeace.org), the aim of the protest was to "end the war in Iraq" and to "bring the troops home now." Other stated goals on the web site were to "leave no military bases behind, end the looting of Iraq, stop the torture, stop bankrupting our communities, [and to end] military recruitment in our schools."
Pac found the protest's location to be most appropriate.
"The Vietnam and World War II monuments moved me considerably given the reason for my D.C. visit. They represent the conflicts of our fathers and grandfathers, while the war in Iraq is being fought by the youth of my generation," he said. "I am glad I am at Bowdoin and not in Fallujah."