YAL at the University of New Orleans held our Generation of War activism event last week on Thursday, March 21st. We decided to hold a dual event as to maximize student’s interest in our activities. As part of our Generation of War event, we had student play Pin the Drone on the Warzone and set up a Cost of War Memorial to highlight the human cost of our overseas wars.
Our Cost of War Memorial showed the student body that wars fought abroad do indeed have costs that reach our shores. We erected a billboard which stated the number of US military men and women who have been slain in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also listed the number of military deaths of those who were Louisiana natives. We represented these fallen heroes by placing American flags into the ground to serve as a tribute to the lives lost.
To make this event even more special, we gave students the opportunity to write the names of their loved ones who were lost in battle. They wrote the names directly on the billboard so everyone who passed could pay homage to these men and women. This was an amazing experience as it really hit home with students who lost people in the wars. It showed them that their community does care about them and that being against war does not mean you are against the troops.
The Cost of War Memorial served us well and paid off two-fold. It provided us an opportunity to pay tribute to the fallen men and women of the US Armed Forces and served as a great recruiting tool. Everyone on campus was asking what all these American flags were for and we were more than happy to provide them with an answer.
In addition to the Cost of War Memorial, we had students play the Pin the Drone on the Warzone game. This game was a HUGE success. It really kept students around our table after they viewed our memorial. Everyone wanted to test their knowledge and play the game.
We tweaked the game a little to adapt it to our campus. We dropped the blindfolds and changed the rules just a bit. Instead of having students wear a blindfold and attempt to locate a place that we have bombed, invaded or set up a military base, we asked our student body to identify a place where we did NOT invade, bomb or have a military base.
This small tweak allowed us to cater to the genuine anti-war flare that our campus exhibits. By asking students to find a place where we were not militarily engaged we were able to appeal to their senses and make them think. Everyone knows where we are involved militarily but few know where we are not involved. By dropping the blindfold we were able to allow students to quickly play this game and still have time to discuss the issues and hand out literature.
Timing is key on our campus as we are a commuter school and people do not “hang” on campus. They come to go to class and then go home. Catching people in between class is the most frequent way to engage them as after their last class lets out they run for the car and scurry home. I would recommend adapting these activism ideas to your campus to anyone. These small changes really made the difference for us!
The results of the game were very astounding. The vast majority of students could not name a place where we were not involved. And motivation was not a problem. We used the stickers provided by Antiwar.com to create Antiwar.com drinking glasses. These glasses were very buzzworthy. As I mentioned before our campus is very liberal-leaning and thus antiwar. Everyone wanted a glass, but only those who could “drone” a country where we were not militarily involved got one. We gave out participation prizes to everyone who played. These prizes were but not limited to Antiwar.com pins, The Law by Bastiat, and Marxism Unmasked by Von Mises.
In addition to the Cost of War Memorial and the Pin the Drone on the Warzone game, we passed out antiwar literature and engaged the student body in a rigorous discussion about the cost and ramifications of undeclared overseas wars.
We highlighted what war brings: loss of life, loss of liberty and loss of capital. By concentrating on these we were able to show that war costs the biggest toll of all: human life. We first pointed out the deaths of our men and women in uniform and then the civilian deaths of millions of Iraqis and Afghans.
It was also pointed out how much liberty is lost in times of war. The loss of privacy through the Patriot Act, the NDAA and the Obama’s kill list which DOES include American citizens are just a few examples of how we effectively communicated the students loss of liberty as a result of war. Many students left knowing that as war expands, liberty contracts.
Lastly, the cost of war was transmitted in dollar amount. We concentrated on the fighting of unfunded wars and the devastation this has on our national debt. By communicating that each student owes tens of thousands of dollars due to these wars we put a real life monetary figure on war. Indeed, for the amount each student owes due to the wars of the last ten years, a student could attend UNO and earn a Bachelor’s AND a Master’s degree! Student were not happy when they discovered this little fact.
All in all our Generation of War activism event was a smashing success. We had over 30 people sign up for our emails with at least 20 of those showing a genuine interest to join our chapter. We also had 3 people join right there on the spot due to this event. “If you are antiwar, I am in!” was the sentiment of these 3 people. One who happens to be a veteran immediately thanked us for what we were doing and said that his experience in a warzone made him antiwar and he was glad to see this message alive and well on campus.
I would like to send a big thank you to the staff at the YAL National HQ for providing the money and resources needed to make this event a reality. Without the help of these fine ladies and gentlemen none of this would be possible.
I would also like to thank Antiwar.com for sponsoring this activism drive and providing free swag to supplement our efforts.
A thank you must also be given to the Foundation for an Economic Education for sending us free copies of The Law and Marxism Unmasked. These books made great prizes and will no doubt open minds to the philosophy of liberty.Published in