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Syria discussion panel sparks major campus interest

By Jasmine Guerine
On September 12, 2013

  • “Helps to relieve the mind, and it’s good for us, sexual healing baby.”. bombayhiphop/Flickr

The Syria information and discussion panel was a unique event to take place at Marist. In a week's time two seniors, Janene Starr and Claire Mooney, organized the event. They were determined to generate awareness on a very serious issue. The idea for this event came from their growing objections over the US launching a strike on Syria.

"We were reading the news enough that it concerned us and we wanted to take action. We were originally planning to protest" Starr said.

However this plan had to be put to a halt due to another matter. The lack of knowledge on campus about the war in Syria needed to be addressed. Mooney and Starr saw the need to educate for the sake of awareness and decided to host the informational panel. They had to work quickly to make their protest into a highly attended panel. Their goal was to have the event before U.S. Congress made a decision, giving them only a few days to prepare.

"It was stressful and really time consuming, these were possibly some of the most chaotic days of my time at Marist" Mooney said.

With only a few days to secure a room, find speakers, buy supplies, and promote the event, the odds of the panel working out seemed to be slim. There was a lot of physical and digital footwork that needed to be done as well.

"It was a lot of emails, a lot of putting yourself out there trying to get people to participate" Starr said.

 The event took place in the Hancock center presentation room. Dr. Juris Pupcenoks, Dr. Artin Arslanian, Dr. Danielle Langfield, and Dr. John Knight all volunteered their time to participate on the panel. While Mooney moderated the discussion, professors had five minutes to answer a question based on their respective academic backgrounds.

Some questions were predetermined while others came from the audience. The attending students also had the option to text or tweet in their questions. Student turnout superseded both Mooney and Starrs' expectations.

"The room was pretty much full. We definitely sparked some interest within our audience members. There were some really intelligent questions asked at the end" Starr said.

"Nobody was falling asleep. People were really engaged, asking questions. It was a good crowd in every sense" Mooney added.

The event however didn't end with the educational discussion. Sticking with their original plan, Mooney and Starr began a peaceful protest right after the panel. Joined by two other students who attended, Starr and Mooney stood outside of Hancock with a multitude of signs.

The general reaction to their display was apathetic. Many students walked by their signs and posters without a second glance. The students' efforts didn't go unnoticed by some genuinely interested students and faculty however. A few people stopped for more information, to show their support or just out of pure curiosity.

"Our main goal at the end of the day was to get people more informed. And I think we achieved that well" Starr said.

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