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Letter to the Editor: STAND is more relevant than ever

Published: November 10, 2006
Section: Opinions


To the Editor:

On behalf of STAND, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the letter written by Miles Ketchum in the previous edition of The Hoot. Mr. Ketchum's concerns centered around the fact that he feels STAND is wasting its time and the time of others, and would be better off focusing on other problems that would allow us to “actually” make a difference.

Mr. Ketchum's implication that STAND does not make a difference is simply false. Perhaps he is equating a formal end to the genocide with the process of ending the genocide. It is the process that allows individuals to make a difference, and grassroots awareness and advocacy campaigns have produced results. These results include the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, a stronger focus by the Bush administration on the peace process, which resulted in the (unfortunately ineffective) Abuja Peace Accords, the dispatch of a special envoy for Darfur, and a strong push by the Bush administration for a U.N. peacekeeping force to protect civilians in Darfur all came about as a result of direct advocacy. To give one concrete example, within two weeks of a national call-in day last year, 27 new cosponsors signed on to the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. Furthermore, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Maine, and Illinois, and numerous universities, including Brandeis, have divested from companies whose investments in Sudan fund the genocide, thanks in large part to efforts by STAND and the Sudan Divestment Task Force. The same “protests in Boston” Mr. Ketchum suggests eliminating in favor of raising money for AIDS research have resulted in over $3300 dollars raised at two events for relief efforts and civilian protection.

Mr. Ketchums questioning of the lack of a STANAIDS or STANInfluenza is insulting to SGAC, FIMRC, and Positive Foundations, which are organizations that do great work responding to these important issues. However, I am also bothered by his declaration that the genocide in Darfur is “no more or less important than a hundred other [issues] facing the world community,” and STAND's insistent focus on Darfur is insensitive to these other issues. STAND does not compete with these clubs;

all of us are trying to make the world a better and safer place. To say that STAND's work could have been better spent elsewhere is to say that the lives of the Darfuris are irrelevant, and it is acceptable to allow genocide to continue.

Genocide expresses the intent of one group to eradicate another, in whole or in part, through murder, rape, infliction of conditions calculated to bring about physical destruction through starvation or disease, and/or prevention of reproduction. This horror is unique among the many that exist in the world, and we have a duty to do all we can to prevent it. That is why STAND will continue to ask the Brandeis campus to do what it can to stop the genocide in Darfur, and we hope that Mr. Ketchum will join us.

Matt Rogers '08
President, STAND