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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Republicans, peace activists share bus to D.C.

Published: January 21, 2005
Section: News

The day Bush was re-elected as president of the United States some people cheered, some people cried, and others were merely apathetic to the entire election. On that day, the Brandeis Republicans began planning a trip to watch the inauguration. So did the Brandeis Students for Peace. About a month ago, the two groups decided to cut costs and share a bus to and from DC.

Brandeis Students for Peace was started in the fall of 2004 by Sam Namat Vaghar 08 and Eric Pekar 08. The group received its funding for the trip from the Student Union, private donations and the members attending the trip. Brandeis Students for Peace sent about 30 students on the trip, and the Brandeis Republicans sent about 10.

According to Pekar, the ride to DC could be a place for the two groups to have peaceful discussion and debates about their opinions.

A common criticism at Brandeis is the lack of communication among people with different opinions, or conversely, too much heated talk about opinions at Brandeis. Both groups expressed the hope that the long bus trip would offer a casual forum for the groups to discuss politics.

In addition to being an incredible opportunity to witness this historic inauguration, we believe this trip has outstanding leadership development potential, Jacob Baime 08 of the Brandeis Republicans told The Hoot. Several prominent Brandeis student leaders are among those scheduled to attend the trip, and we hope this unique chance to hear different views will translate into more open dialogue and intellectual diversity on campus after the trip.

Once off the bus, the groups split up and attended their respective events.
Students for Peace immediately attended a peace rally at 6 a.m. upon arriving in DC. The rally was organized by the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN). Vaghar stressed that the group aimed to “respect the Inauguration, while also realizing that we need to stand up for what we feel is right.

Pekar stated that many of the inauguration attendees, including himself, planed to protest. He felt that the group needed to rally to show how we are patriotic, how this is something that has been done throughout history and has changed our country.

Echoing his co-founder, Vaghar said that students can be against the war and for the soldiers, maintaining a stance of patriotism.

In D.C. Vaghar hoped to “network with both supporters and detesters of Bush.
The peace rally was an opportunity to put an end to apathy, not just in Brandeis but everywhere, Pekar noted.

The Brandeis Republicans also had their own itinerary, during which some members attended events held by congressmen and senators. The main event, though, was President Bushs swearing-in ceremony.

Both groups expressed hopes before the trip that their joint bus ride to DC would open doors for communication and perhaps be an opportunity to set up a lasting relationship.

The entire trip was planned to be about 28 hours, where the time spent in DC was less than driving time. Pekar explained that for Students for Peace and for the Brandeis Republicans, despite this [length of time] it is worth it to go down to DC.

Pekar said before the event that he hoped the trip would help put an end to some of the discomfort that there has been in the past between not just Brandeis Republicans, but any rightists, and leftists on campus.

Perhaps it is in the Brandeis spirit for two completely different political groups to come together for an event.