QU STAND protests genocide in Darfur

“What did you do when 400,000 people died in Darfur?” read one of the many signs held by students in the quad last Wednesday in an attempt to raise awareness of genocide. The peaceful demonstration was organized by QU STAND, a student anti-genocide group that became an official Quinnipiac organization two weeks ago.

Luis D’Agostino, the founding member of QU STAND, said the purpose of the demonstration was to “change the mindsets of the students.” He wants the attitude of the Quinnipiac community to become more empathetic toward the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Among the group of approximately 20 demonstrators was Kelly Hyland, a freshman communications major. She described the event as “loitering with intent.”

The demonstrators got the attention of students by chanting slogans like “80 times the number of Quinnipiac students have already died!” and by holding colorful signs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other signs read, “Darfur needs you,” “STAND up 4 Darfur,” and at least one promoted the group’s Web site, www.QUSTAND.org. Members also handed out flyers with information on how to donate to the organization, participate in its events and find information about the genocide in Darfur. Students came and went as their schedules allowed; they wore homemade “QU STAND” T-shirts designed and made by group members themselves.

Observers said the demonstration was a great idea to promote a worthy cause. Stephanie Reich, a senior nursing major, said she thought the group was taking a “good initiative” toward promoting themselves and the cause. Because of the demonstration, she said she is considering joining the group.

Meghan Driscoll, a freshman media studies major who observed the demonstration, said she thinks the group is achieving its goal. “It definitely put the issue in peoples’ minds. . It’s a good organization with a very good mission because not a lot of organizations at Quinnipiac have a deep meaning.”

Not all bystanders were open to the chanting. “I think it was a little over-the-top,” said Jodie Nolte, a freshman business major. “I appreciate the effort they made, but I think they could have gone about it in a way that was less disturbing to the people walking by.”

Earlier this semester, QU STAND distributed pamphlets to the dormitories and tied balloons to lampposts earlier this semester. The group, which accepted donations during Wednesday’s demonstration, has already received $1,000. It hopes to get between $2,000 and $3,000 by the end of the semester. Forty percent of the proceeds will go directly to the Darfur cause and 60 percent will go toward future events, D’Agostino said.

These aren’t the only high hopes QU STAND members have for the new group. “We want to see the school give us recognition in the sense that they let us do big advocacy events. I wish they’d let us have a big concert in the middle of the quad,” D’Agostino said. “We want to get other organizations involved. We want people to STAND for anything.”

Members are looking optimistically into the future. Alysis Richardson, a senior journalism major, hopes to continue raising awareness on campus.

“We want to draw in large audiences with fun events that people will come to. It’s so hard to get Quinnipiac students to attend educational events about our world,” she said. “Just yesterday, I attended the lecture on AIDS awareness sponsored by S[tudents] A[against] D[estructive] D[ecisions] and the small turnout was discouraging. Hopefully we can use creative ideas to educate students and spark some interest in important issues.”

Other activities being considered by QU STAND include benefit concerts, guest speakers and a slip-and-slide event. “There are no limits to this organization,” D’Agostino said.