An act of opposition for vets and students

By Staff

Courtesy Flickr/US Army Africa

On Wednesday night, the eve of Veterans’ Day, Amherst Town Meeting members voted 76- 32 to pass the “Bring Our War Dollars Home, Stop the Killing” resolution. This Act would resolve to make the town of Amherst one officially opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Did the Amherst Meeting members consult the Veterans of Amherst or the University of Massachusetts? No they did not. Did these people think of the message it sends to the many Servicemen and Veterans living at UMass and in Amherst? No they did not. Do those 76 individuals who voted for such an irrational measure ever think of the students their actions affect (especially those who are currently serving)? No they did not.

The passage of this resolution reflects a very dangerous trend we are seeing in America: self-righteousness and arrogance disguised as altruism to voice opposition to the previous administration. President Bush has gone to great lengths recently to state that mistakes were in fact made during his Presidency and that he regrets them.

The members of the town meeting are so wrapped up in their anti-Bush fanaticism that during a debate over zoning that lasted three hours (yes, zoning), one member accused another of “fear tactics akin to the previous President.” When this was said, a number of people in the audience fervently nodded their heads in agreement like church parishioners. I would not have been surprised if meeting members had stood up, thrown their hands in the air and yelled “Hallelujah!”

 These are the people who pass laws that directly affect over 15,000 students living in Amherst. It is also worth mentioning that the Town of Amherst gets to count all these students as residents and therefore receives a large sum of state funding – more than it would otherwise – yet, they neglect and insult us.

UMass SGA Sen. Nathan Lamb proposed a resolution in the Senate that would make the SGA opposed to the town’s actions and that would require the Speaker to voice such opposition at the Town Meeting. The resolution passed 13-11 with four abstentions, but only after SGA President Brandon Tower had his say on the matter – suggesting to the Senators that Sen. Lamb’s motion was not the SGA’s business.

What then is our business? If the SGA is not to have a say in this matter of the Town of Amherst, then we should not have a say in any other matter. I suppose the SGA has no say in the keg ban, or the raising of the by-law violation fines all up to $300 – a direct and purposeful assault against students. The SGA, as the representative body of the students of UMass Amherst has an obligation to voice its opposition to such egregious measures including the “Bring the War Dollars Home, Stop the Killing” resolution passed Wednesday night.

The Town of Amherst ought to be ashamed. The students of UMass ought to feel outraged. The veterans who live in Amherst and UMass feel betrayed. Why must the town move to pass such political motions? Is it their place to attack and alienate so many people? To do so on Veteran’s Day is especially sickening. I think the time for students to start taking a stand against the town has come.

I wish my opinion editorial could have been a more celebratory and thankful message of goodwill for our troops and veterans on this day, but the day has been tainted for me by the Town of Amherst’s actions Wednesday night.

God bless our veterans, and I am eternally grateful for all your service and sacrifices.

Justin Thomas is a UMass student and can be reached at [email protected]