For the second time in less than a month, students crowded around dorm televisions. Some were weeping, some swearing, others meditating as they watched news unfold on CNN.
“On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan,” said President George W. Bush, in a speech televised from Washington.
“Oh, God, no,” said sophomore Megan Hammond.
Hammond is one of many Mills students who opposes military retaliation in response to the Sept. 11 attack. Ever since the U.S. government suggested a counter attack, students campus-wide have reacted differently.
Some have worn black armbands and attended protests, while others hung American flags from their cars and windows.
Last Sunday, U.S. and British forces attacked military targets in Afghanistan including air defense posts and communications sites as well as striking suspected terrorist training camps. It began at 9:27 a.m. and occurred in three major waves that lasted several hours. It involved a variety of aircraft, missiles and bombs according to reports in the Pentagon.
The U.S. action triggered a spectrum of emotional responses from students.
“I was pissed because I was under the impression that they would try to root out bin Laden, not just bomb the most likely place he’d be,” said junior Alexis Bell.
“What are we planning on gaining from this [attack],” said sophomore Dana Higashi, “it doesn’t solve anything. We’re just making things worse.”
“I just think it’s ridiculous,” said sophomore Christina Atkielski, “I just think war is not the answer.”
“The U.S. has so many resources and [so much] power that we should be able to find a peaceful resolution. I feel disappointed in my government,” she said.
Sophomore Tasha Huo disagrees, “I don’t think there can be a peaceful resolution [because terrorists will] keep terrorizing until they get their way and the world can’t afford to let them get their way,” she said.
Huo heard a radio host describe the attack as a baseball game, with “the Taliban up to bat with two strikes and no balls.”
“It’s awful that people view [the attack] as a game and don’t understand the seriousness of it,” Huo said.
She was also shocked when she overheard some children say that “they would like to [personally] go over and kill Afghans and bin Laden.”
Some students worried about the effect the bombings would have on Afghan citizens.
“Bombing is a very cowardly act, because you’re not facing your opponent and you don’t see the damage and pain it inflicts on people,” said freshwoman Brett Zimmerman. “I bet we won’t see any footage of what we’ll do to those people.”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Zimmerman.
Other students are looking at the implications of having a war which could be fought at home. Some students have said that they are stockpiling food and supplies in the event of disaster.