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Standing out on an apathetic campus
The Princeton Review rated Quinnipiac University as the second most politically apathetic school in the Northeast region last year, but Keith Bevacqua, a sophomore media production major, is out to change that.
Positioning himself on the quad two weeks ago, Bevacqua held up a large sign calling for an end to the Iraq war and engaged in dialogue with passing students. This is not his first time, either. He participated in a number of similar protests last year.
Bevacqua said that he first became politically active after seeing a news story about Walter Reed hospital and the inadequate care soldiers returning from Iraq were receiving.
“The first sign I made was ‘Bring the Troops Home’, and ‘Support the Troops’,” Bevacqua said. “And it was just scary, and sad, to see that these men and women who are giving so much are not getting the same in return.”
“It’s just unacceptable that we have to watch not only our own people coming back from this war, but people we’ve never met, people that we have no connection to, or seemingly don’t have any connection to. I mean their lives are being destroyed. It’s unacceptable. Unacceptable, not only as a global citizen, but I take it personally as an American citizen. It offends me,” he said.
While he is passionate about bringing an end to the conflict, he admitted that he does not have all of the answers. Bevacqua considers himself a liberal and said that he welcomes discussion and dialogue from both ends of the political spectrum.
Pertaining to the war the ‘You break it you buy it’ sentiment, he said, holds true in this case. The U.S., according to Bevacqua, needs to “at least give the Iraqis the ability to fix it themselves.”
“At this point, I don’t see that we’ve given them that ability yet,” he said.
He does not, however, believe that abandoning an unstable Iraq will lead to serious national security issues in the future. He said, the Iraqis would bear the brunt of the consequences. Bevacqua doubts that Iraq will become a launching point for attacks from Islamic extremist groups such as al Qaeda and Hamas.
“People say that if you don’t fight them there, if you don’t stay there, they’ll just come and attack us,” Bevacqua said. “I don’t think that’s true. I think the people of Iraq most likely are disgusted with what America has done to their country.”
“But I think they hate the damages that radical Islam causes just as much as they can hate Americans. The problem with leaving Iraq doesn’t lie in the fact that al Qaeda or Hamas will come in and set up camp, the problem lies in the fact that are the Sunnis and Shiites within Iraq going to get along, are they going to be able to reconcile and rebuild their country,” he said.
Bevacqua said that he is dissatisfied with responses from Democratic candidates such as Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Joseph Biden. He sees potential in the Iraq Study Group proposal, which includes a diplomatic coalition from both the Middle East and states outside that region.
“The more ideas and the more people working to find an active solution is the best plan,” Bevacqua said. “You can’t do anything alone now.”
He added, “We have to, as a whole country, admit wrongdoing. Only when we can apologize for our mistake can we accept the help of others. And that’s an extremely hard thing to do.”
Bevacqua believes that the apparent apathy circulating around campus is, in part, due to many students being detached from major issues concerning the world.
“I think the problem that is hurting us is that students and youth, they don’t feel affected by the problems in the world today,” he said. “There’s no offense of, ‘this is going to hurt me’. And people have to step back and understand that it can affect you, and in time it will.”
He believes that the university can change these attitudes “by developing a culture that cares.” Open dialogue, regardless of one’s beliefs or political affiliation, he said, is crucial.
“Getting President Carter here was an excellent step in producing a much more caring and thoughtful culture here at Quinnipiac,” Bevacqua said. “The school should definitely continue investing in the Albert Schweitzer programs. They can continue to invest in multicultural clubs on campus. It’s a very slow process, but with time and a little bit of effort, a lot of change can come.”
He added, “And it’s as simple as asking people to take a chance, just to stand up and say what they believe in. And that can be for the war. I consider myself a pretty liberal guy, but if someone’s out here and they are passionate, and they’re against abortion rights, great. Good for them. They have something they believe in and they want to tell the world, and they want people to be convinced of their beliefs. And that’s hard to see on this campus. We need more of that on the left, on the right, in the middle.”
Bevacqua hopes to organize another protest sometime soon, and will be holding a meeting Thursday at 9:15 p.m. in the Café in order to discuss the issue.