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IC STAND Hosts Journalist and Activist Nicholas Kristof

Written by Michael Berlin '08

Nicholas Kristof

IC's anti-genocide organization, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND), in partnership with Cornell University's organization, STARS, brought two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof to campus last Monday to discuss his experience travelling to Sudan and reporting on the mass genocide in Darfur. Kristof has written for the New York Times since 1984, and has written his own op-ed column since 2001.

His talk focused on China's role in supporting genocide in Sudan, and what the U.S. can do to pressure China, host of the 2008 Olympics, to take a firm stance on humanitarian issues. Kristof also told horrifying stories from his 10 visits to the Darfur region, while stressing what students can do to bring our government's attention to the increasing atrocities that occur daily.

Kristof's talk was part of a larger initiative by IC STAND and Cornell's STARS called "Dream for Darfur: A Two-Day Academic Symposium on the World's Darkest Olympics." The groups also brought Adam Sterling, director of the Sudan Divestment Taskforce, and Mohamed Yahya, executive director of the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, to both Cornell and IC to discuss similar issues.

Fuse sent Mandy Kessler, co-president of IC STAND, some questions about the weekend and her involvement with student organizations on campus, as well as what students can do to increase awareness and affect the dire situation in Darfur.

Fuse: At a student level, what is the best way to address the situation in Darfur?

Mandy: The movement to end the genocide in Darfur is truly a grassroots, student-powered movement. As such, students have numerous opportunities to affect the situation in Darfur. Currently, a very timely opportunity exists in relation to the Olympics in China this summer. China is a major partner and protector of the Sudanese government, buying 70 percent of their oil exports, trading them the majority of their weapons, and protecting them in the United Nations. By pressuring China -- in light of their role as the host of the Beijing Olympics -- to pull out support from Sudan and bring the Olympic ideals of peace and freedom to the people of Darfur, students can truly make a difference. They can save lives. They can end the genocide. That's what our event focuses on: building awareness of China's complicity in the genocide and raising our voices together to ask China to stop supporting a government that is slaughtering its own citizens.

Students can also help by making sure their schools and state governments are divested from the conflict.  They can also call and petition their representatives, locally and nationally, to represent them as their constituents by implementing UN Resolution 1769, to bring in the peacekeeping forces necessary to begin to protect the people of Darfur from rape and slaughter by their own government.

Fuse: How would you describe your experience with student organizations at IC?

Mandy: My experience with student organizations at IC has been critical to my development, as a student, a community member and citizen, and a person.  It is through STAND and my other student organization involvement that I am able to reach out to the community around me and engage with students, professors and community leaders who share my concerns and goals. Through STAND and other community organizations, I am able to use my classroom lessons to be the kind of person I want to be.

Fuse: In terms of the events this week, how has it been working with student groups across campus and across the hill at Cornell?

Mandy: I've had an amazing time working with my partners at IC within STAND, our supporters in other student organizations on campus, and our partner organization at Cornell (STARS - Students for Tolerance, Awareness and Remembering Survivors). Working with all these people and groups on this event has led me to meet -- and form close friendships with -- all sorts of students who come from different backgrounds and perspectives but share a common goal of giving voice to the voiceless and protecting the human rights of our neighbors in Darfur.


1 Comment

I'm currently a senior at my high school and I am coming to Ithaca in the fall. On Monday night, I'm running a benefit concert called Concert for a Cause: Save Darfur in order to raise money for the people of Darfur. What's going on there is horrible and it's amazing that so little people know about it. I actually tried contacting Nicholas Kristof to tell him what I was doing because I read that he writes articles on Darfur and has been there multiple times. It's great that other people are also getting involved with this and that people are becoming aware of the situation.


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