Bucking trend, some argue for war
By Channing Joseph

Even as several busloads of Oberlin students will travel to New York this weekend to join an international protest against a U.S.-led war on Iraq, a small contingent of less vocal pro-war students hold on to the conviction that deposing Saddam Hussein is the best way forward.
Second-year politics major Ronnie Goines, whose mother is a survivor of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, counts himself among this minority. He believes that the Iraqi regime is working with terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, and poses an immediate threat to the American people.
“I’m all about putting an end to terrorism,” Goines said, adding that he thinks Saddam Hussein probably helped support the Sept. 11 attacks. “You can’t sit back and let people think that they can do things like that to you,” he said.
In Goines’ opinion, many anti-war students do not know how to defend their ideals.
“People here come from privileged backgrounds, most of them, and I really think that they kind of jump on the bandwagon when crises happen,” Goines said. “Right now in Oberlin, the bandwagon is ‘let’s make peace, not war.’ [But] my point of view is so strong… they really don’t have much to say.”
Other pro-war students say they’ve had a different experience at Oberlin. Sophomore Curtis Ferguson, a Log Cabin Republican who says he would support a war as long as the U.S. received support from its European allies, claimed that he knows no other students who support Iraqi disarmament. Furthermore, when he mentions his conservative beliefs to his Oberlin friends, he often receives nothing but laughter.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Ferguson said, “because Oberlin is a diverse community.”
Still, some other Republican students expressed discouragement, claiming they have often felt reluctant to express their opinions for fear of public backlash.
Senior Miguel Villafana, an outspoken campus Republican, is no stranger to such negative attentions. He supports a war on Iraq despite having family members on military duty in the Middle East.
“I’m so popular, I get hate mail,” he remarked. “You get used to it after a while…I don’t want this fight any more than you or the next guy, but I’m not a coward.”
Similarly, junior Ryan Silakoski, sports editor of The Oberlin Review and member of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he sometimes feels that his ideals put his safety in jeopardy. “My biggest beef with anti-war people on this campus is that they refuse to have a dialogue… It’s threatening to be honest… I get in arguments with people if I speak up,” Silakoski said, claiming that in the past students have vandalized the door of his dormitory room because he decorated it with a bumper sticker displaying the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fi.”
“Oberlin preaches about diversity,” he continued. “Being someone from the military and being Republican, I add to that diversity, even though I’m a working class white male.”
Silakoski he fears the results of last semester’s student referendum asking for the College to officially oppose the war. “At some point [if it passes], when I’m looking for [military] security clearance, they’re going to look at my transcripts and see that I went to a college that was officially against the war and against the commander in chief’s wishes.”
In fact, Silakoski claimed that he has made attempts to talk with campus anti-war activists and has often run into an impasse because many people stop talking when they discover he is a Republican and member of the armed forces, although he did cite one exception.
“I will tell you that [representatives from Oberlin Coalition against the War] did listen to me. I was very impressed with them, and if everyone respected my views like I respected theirs, [Oberlin] would be a much better place.”
Despite his strong beliefs, Silakoski does not have any plans to start a campus conservative organization.
“If I were to put up a poster, it’d get ripped down 30 seconds later, [and for] people who are pro-war, it’s difficult for them to express that because they know what will happen. There are a lot of them around, [but] they feel like it’s a lost cause [on this campus]…” he said, claiming that some campus liberals “forget that [soldiers] are human too, that we don’t want to have to go to war… War is evil, plain and simple.”

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