Students were left apprehensive and questioned the decisions made by lawmakers when congress approved a bill last week to enable President Bush to use military force against Saddam Hussein.
After five days of debate, both houses of congress authorized Bush to send troops into Iraq to uphold a U.N. resolution forbidding Saddam from having weapons of mass destruction.
Other than the need to endorse the U.N. resolution, representatives cited the fact that Bush had expressed that he would act against Iraq with or without congressional support, as having affected their decision.
Although few students on campus believed that congress would vote against the resolution, they did not expect such an overwhelming support.
The 296-133 vote in the House of Representatives, left many students angered.
Organizing Mills member Catherine Edgertona said,
“Our proposed military budget for 2003 is 396 billion dollars. We seem to have trouble paying for our education, yet our tax dollars are paying for a war which the government seems to have little trouble [allotting] to war.”
Freshwoman Anke Davern voiced similar concerns when she said, “The money going into the defense funds is money that will be taken away from programs which are important to Mills, and important to women as a whole who usually receive the majority of these programs.”
Prior to the decision, freshwoman Nina Spring went to various anti-war events, including Mass Convergence in San Francisco and the Mills peace rally. She along with other Mills women urged students to call into their representatives.
“I read California statistics [on war opposition] and I thought that we were really making a positive effect on the situation,” she said.
Dianne Feinstein, California senator, reportedly received 200 calls a day leading up to the vote, 99 percent of which were adamantly in opposition to war with Iraq.
In response to government support for Bush’s plan, sophomore Tara Hutcheon said that the interest is fueled by anything but a hope for future peaceful resolutions.
“I think it boils down to economy and the reason were doing this is oil,” said Hutcheon.
Likewise, Davern saw the interests of oil companies as being responsible for the approval of the proposition.”I think about the poor and working class people mostly of color who [will] get sent over to Iraq to fight for the interests of oil companies,” said Davern.
Members of the House of Representatives advised Bush to continue to seek support from the U.N. Security Council, in order to get international backing and prevent the United States from acting alone.
Junior Caroline Korpi agreed that the international community must be involved, “I think we need to do something, but [most importantly] we need support from other countries.”
To date congress has always approved presidential pleas to authorize use of force.
However, this does little to comfort President Janet Holmgren who, in a statement read by executive vice president Ramon Torrecilha at a Mills rally said, “Some of our leaders are trying to convince us that the only way to protect ourselves is to wage war.” Her statement went on to say, that war and the threat of war only leads to further violence.
Although the resolution has been passed, students still see the need to stay active on the topic. “Its important that we let people who run this country know that we don’t want our names used for interests that don’t benefit the people, said Spring. “Or fight wars whether nationally or internationally that we don’t agree with.”