The new children of Aquarius

Theresa Bruskin

Junior English major Beth Vild helps lead an anti-war protest held Sept. 27. Vild has actively been against the war in Iraq since high school. “All the reasons why we’re in the war were lies and we knew they didn’t exist in the first place,” she said. Cai

Credit: Ron Soltys

As she walked through the Student Center, Beth Vild paused every few feet to thrust fliers into the hands of passing students.

“Want to stop the war?” the junior English major asked.

Eying her tattooed forearm and beaded dreadlocks, many students hurried past without taking the paper Vild offered. Others, taken aback by her question, hesitantly accepted a flier.

Vild said many people consider her a hippie, as the bellbottom-wearing activists during the Vietnam era were called, but she thinks the term is inaccurate.

People don’t realize that hippies only existed in the ’60s and ’70s, she said.

“A hippie is someone that was counter-culture and someone who was active in different political things that were popular at the time,” she said.

Because their parents had enough money to support them, they were able to be active and didn’t have to work, she said.

“It was a time period, it was a movement, and now the people we consider hippies aren’t active,” she said. “They aren’t doing as much. They’re not doing all the things that all the people in the ’60s and ’70s were doing.”

Vild said people think that if they’re called hippies, it’s a bad thing.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re all drugged out and having sex with everyone and only showering once a month,” she said. “We’re just as responsible as everyone else, if not more.”

Austin Chilton, a sophomore theater major, said he avoids using the term “hippie” to describe himself or others because he doesn’t like to categorize people according to their appearances.

“I don’t like to use that word because it worries me that people have this idea of what I am and I don’t want that,” he said. “I’m not a hippie, I’m an Austin.”

He said a lot of people are disillusioned with the world around them — as hippies were — but the objects of their discontent differ greatly from person to person and it’s important not to lump everyone together.

“It’s so easy to set off that stereotype without actually hearing or understanding a person,” Chilton said.

He said the generation gap in the ’60s resulted in young people wanting to break free of society’s definition of how they should act. He sees that sentiment in himself, he said, and he wants to be who he wants to be and encourages that in others.

“We’re still in that state of rebellion against what they’re giving us,” he said. “Why can’t we all get along?”

Society is starting to move back to the lifestyle the hippies experienced, partly because of the war in Iraq, he said.

“It makes us vocal,” he said.

Vild, a member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee, said she tried to start a group at her high school in Dover by passing out anti-war information.

“All the reasons why we’re in the war were lies and we knew they didn’t exist in the first place,” she said.

The anti-war movement on campus, she said, is very small because no one pays attention to the larger movement or other problems that are going on in the world.

“I’m tired of seeing people just sit and watch life go by, when they could get off their ass and go do something about it,” she said. “People are just too lazy. If they’re not paying attention, they have no idea.”

Contact student life reporter Theresa Bruskin at [email protected].