More than 1,000 students showed their opposition to terrorism and paid tribute to victims of terrorist attacks at a concert and rally at Duke University last week. With the band Sister Hazel as the headliner, the "Students Against Terror" concert and rally united a broad coalition of student organizations in a strong show of support for a peaceful and secure world.
"We are always excited when our vehicle can call attention to worthy causes," said Ken Block, the lead singer of Sister Hazel. "We receive a lot of satisfaction from energizing people and getting them to find common ground."
The concert marked the launch of the Students Against Terror initiative, an organization dedicated to educating the campus community about global terrorist attacks and honoring and remembering the victims of these crimes. A diverse line-up of speakers, including survivors of terror attacks in Israel, Sudan, New York and Lebanon, shared their stories, and Mayor Bill Bell proclaimed the day "Students Against Terror Day" in Durham.
Duke President Richard Brodhead applauded the survivors of terror for their courage and students for demonstrating their solidarity with victims worldwide.
"Violence against civilians is something that everyone on this campus has come together to speak their revulsion to and their refusal to accept," he said.
"This will surely be remembered as the biggest event of the fall semester, and we think it really brought the Duke community together for a very worthy cause," said David Gastwirth, one of the students organizing the concert. "Unfortunately, few parts of the world have been immune to terror attacks, and we hope the concert encouraged students to learn more about the world around them."
Supporters worldwide were able to be part of the action by watching the live simulcast at Hillel's Web site, www.hillel.org. They also sent messages of support to the Duke students that the master of ceremonies, Joel Chasnoff, shared with the crowd throughout the evening.
Jonathan Gerstl, the director of the Freeman Center for Jewish Life at Duke, congratulated the student leaders who worked for many months to make the event a success.
"Our students dedicated so much time and energy to the concert, and their hard work is reflected in the electrifying program," he said. "We couldn't be prouder of their efforts."
The event was sponsored by the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, Duke Student Government, Duke University Union, Campus Council and the Joint Israel Initiative. Co-sponsors included Alpha Epsilon Pi, Chabad, Few Quad and the Political Science Department. Several student organizations also endorsed the program, including fraternities and sororities, the Arab Students Organization and political and social groups.
Duke was also the scene of the fourth annual conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement during the three days immediately following the concert. Though not without protests, the conference ran smoothly. The Joint Israel Initiative, a partnership between the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, Hillel student board and Duke Friends of Israel, sponsored an Israel teach-in as an alternative to the PSM programming, which included workshops, panel discussions and a lecture by Avram Burg, the former speaker of the Knesset.