USS calls for action in Darfur

Kali Price

Preston Mitchum decided it was time for Undergraduate Student Senate to take a stand on an international issue.

“When we (USS) were chartered in 1924, the bylaws did not limit us to any kind of politics,” he said. “Being a student leader, you have to learn to stick to your convictions.”

Mitchum, senator for academic affairs, wrote a resolution calling for USS to write letters to Ohio legislators telling them that the Kent State student body feels action needs to be taken in the Darfur region of Sudan. The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have been killed and about 2.5 million people have been forced into refugee camps since 2003.

The resolution was passed at USS’ public meeting on Nov. 8.

Mitchum said he thinks the issue affects college students more than they may think.

“It’s dealing with land and money. If someone in the U.N. declares it genocide, it will affect our military,” he said. “People don’t really think about it. It’s a little bit more than disheartening.”

He said the idea stemmed from a conversation he had with George Garrison, professor of Pan-African studies and a member of Faculty Senate.

“(Garrison) is my NAACP adviser, and he was talking about Faculty Senate’s decision,” Mitchum said.

Faculty Senate recently passed a similar resolution.

Mitchum said he is unsure if the resolution will have any effect on students or the government.

“I can only pray so,” he said.

Mitchum said that like the Faculty Senate, he drafted a cover page to the resolution to send out to Ohio legislatures — and maybe even President George W. Bush.

“It will detail that the students at Kent State care,” he said. “We are taking steps like fundraisers and forums. Hopefully I’ll send it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

But Mitchum thinks the process may take longer than he had hoped.

His biggest goal is to educate others in the process of sending out the resolution.

“I’m hoping to educate the students,” he said. “International issues do affect us. You have to try to do something about it.”

Mitchum said he has had a lot of positive feedback from students.

“People are coming up to me and just thanking me for bringing up the issue. I didn’t expect anyone to know about it,” he said. “(Someone said), ‘You’re actually proving a point that you’re not a student leader for resumés, you’re trying to prove a point and doing what you’re here to do.'”

Contact student politics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].