Hannah Simmons

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Hannah Simmons

New SDS

March 2008 "It's useful to look at the old SDS as one of the best student organizations in the country," says Ben Carroll, a UNC sophomore. "The spirit and the energy of the old SDS carries a great history, but we need to create a movement for today's times rather than trying to recreate something from the past."

"People don't have as direct of a stake in what's going on," says UNC junior Clint Johnson. "There is no draft, and that's why we had the draft card demonstration."

Press play to begin In late February, SDS organized a mock recruiting station in the Pit, at which an Iraqi war veteran spoke about his combat experiences and protesters burned fake draft cards. Many onlookers seemed puzzled, as if a draft card were as quaint as a ration booklet from World War II.

"We're all drafted in the sense that we're responsible for what's going on; it's a de facto acceptance on the part of the public," Johnson says. "Not having a draft hurts, in that people don't have a real incentive. That puts the current movement on a different plane of morality; people are protesting despite the fact they're not facing the draft themselves."

Kosta Harlan remains an SDS member, even though he has graduated. "It wasn't like, 'Well, I'm done with that,'" he says. "I feel a sense of responsibility for what's taking place in Iraq."

The UNC-Chapel Hill chapter launched in September 2006, shortly before former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's speech on campus. Since then, the group, which has about two dozen members, has led rallies and demonstrations at UNC and at Chapel Hill's military recruiting station, and occupied the local office of U.S. Rep. David Price, who voted against the war but has not called for the troops' immediate withdrawal. (A Price staff member called police, who arrested the protesters. Local civil rights attorney Al McSurely represented SDS members in court; trespassing charges were dropped.)

Tamara Tal, a graduate student and SDS member, says. "We don't endorse candidates or do voter registration. I see our role as to educate people about the real limitations of what the candidates stand for and why the two-party system isn't working. The war isn't going to end if Obama or Clinton is elected."

Hannah Simmons, a senior, was among those skeptical about public protests, until she attended an anti-war demonstration last spring in Washington, D.C. "I used to think it was just people chanting and making themselves feel better. But then I realized that the power of feeling like you're doing something with like-minded people and the strength that you get. It can be a stimulus to get more information and become more involved. It can be a very powerful thing."

"I don't think it will be any one group that ends the war," Simmons says. "That would be arrogant to say. But I all these parts add up and the SDS plays an important role."

Linda Gomaa, a UNC junior was also affiliated.[1]

References