Walk-Out against the war draws nearly 300 students at UCF

First, sorry we were late on the March 20th walk out, but better later than never. The southern activities on that day inspired us to stage a walk out. Pictures to come soon.

[written by the ucf sds journalistic anti-collective]

Orlando, FL — April 11, 2007.
On April 11th 2007, SDS at UCF along with the Walk Out Now Coalition staged a mass student, faculty and staff walk out against the war in Iraq. A banner encouraging students to walk out of their bomb factory, a.k.a. their university, was dropped from the main entrance parking garage. The banner drop was the first of a new wave of diversity of tactics employed by Orlando students to voice their growing frustrations with the ongoing occupation of our campus and nations abroad by the military industrial complex.

At 1:00pm students across campus walked out of their classrooms and assembled in front of the Student Union. At the Student Union, participants rallied with drums, banners, signs, and high spirits. Local Code Pink activists came to campus in solidarity with the student movement, bringing a life-size G.W. Bush dummy and several signs. Food Not Bombs was also on hand passing out flyers about the recent political arrest of a downtown FNB activist. SDS members briefly addressed the crowd, speaking out against the war and the university’s direct connections to the military industrial complex through large military research grants.

At the University of Central Florida, President John Hitt has commented on unethical and war perpetuating business relationships as “fine by him” and challenged students to be “sophisticated” when challenging campus policy. Students chanted and cheered, demanding the administration take notice of student and citizen demands to step out of Iraq and stop nourishing a growing global disaster. After students poured in front of the Union to hear short speeches, it was announced that we were marching across campus to our administrator’s office.

It was then that the largest student rally ever at UCF took place, most students being fresh faces who have not been active in the new Students for a Democratic Society. The crowd was energized throughout the march, with a banner line, drum line, chants, and cheers. Campus and local police continuously sought to cut the students off on their route, driving and cycling ahead to meet students at every stop, but the student body would not be intimidated.

In front of the administration building the march momentarily stopped to rally with a large call and response, letting the President and other administrators know there was a large group of people outside who were less than happy with the campus’ ties to war profiteers.

When SDS’ers prepared to enter the administration office, the original intent was to appear neat and orderly, police officers were staged between the students and Millican Hall, while a half dozen other officers stood guard upstairs in President John Hitt’s office. The crowd, though, wanted no respite in their excitement and chose to not break into small groups to enter the office, but to simply continue the march right into the building, continuing chants and drum rolls. The march drew attention from dozens of faculty and staff who curiously poked their heads out of their offices and, for at least a moment, remembered that there is a war going on and UCF is complicit in it. Over 90 demand letters, with multiple signatories on each, were dropped off on the desk of the university President.

The students continued their march en mass through Millican Hall and back out to the original rallying point in front of the building to cheers and chants from students that had already arrived. Several speeches were given while the hundreds of students poured out of Millican Hall. Some SDS’ers gave stirring speeches and a heartfelt speech was delivered by the former president of the Muslim Student Association, thanking students for standing in solidarity with oppressed Muslims and Arabs.

The procession then marched back to the Student Union where the event concluded with final statements welcoming the new faces to their first action. Various campus organizations then were handed the megaphone and spoke with the congregated student body. For once, the campus was used not as a competitive sphere where students tried to top one another, but students started to actually talk and relate to one another and realize there are many who think and feel the same way and it’s not just anti war and social justice campus organizations which oppose war.


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