In an interview with Fareed Zakaria, a political theorist, Steven Colbert of the Colbert Report asked, “The world . Why should we care?” While said in jest, the question actually speaks to the growing, apathetic reputation of not just the American people, but also to the heirs of this attitude, the nation’s students.

As members of “Generation Y” go to college, they take with them their indifferent attitudes, building skepticism among students of past generations who, themselves, played vital roles as students during the civil rights and the anti-war movements which affected the future of this country and, well, the world. However, even though there has not been cohesive student movement for change as significant as the movements of the 1960s and early ’70s, all hope is not lost. A new student movement is gaining ground, on the verge of emerging into the forefront of the minds of Americans and the world, and it comes at us with a unified message: the genocide must stop today.

About a year and a half ago, in September 2004, a group of Georgetown University students attended a meeting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where many heard the word “genocide” uttered for the first time since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. This time, though, the term was applied to Darfur, a region in western Sudan about the size of Texas. For many, “genocide” was the only motivation needed to take action. Thus began the first anti-genocide chapter, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, which quickly expanded to 200 other colleges across the United States.

It has been nearly 15 months since President Bush first declared the situation in Darfur “genocide,” and over two years have passed since the conflict began. The government-sponsored Janjaweed militia has already systematically killed over 400,000 Darfuris, according to estimates by Brian Stiedle, a U.S. military observer who went to Darfur. The ethnically Arab Janjaweed have destroyed approximately 450 villages and killed their “black” inhabitants by machine gun, by locking them in a building and burning it or by simply thrusting them out into the Sahara desert to die of starvation or disease. Now, 2.5 million people live either in internally displaced person or refugee camps in Eastern Chad. Even in these camps, however, the Janjaweed pose a threat to the Darfuris’ safety and lives. Afraid to return home, Darfuris continue to die at an estimated rate of 300 people per day. The world sits back and watches and the Janjaweed threat remains unfettered.

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” After the Holocaust, many stories came out about “righteous gentiles,” but what about the silent ones? Genocide is everyone’s problem. Those who know about it and still do nothing are just as responsible as the perpetrators; saying nothing is a silent consent for the Sudanese government to continue its methodical murders.

So, what can you do? This Jan. 26 will mark the beginning of a nationwide “Power to Protect” campaign, launched by STAND chapters nationwide. The goal is to unite the country on this issue by amassing 1 million letters addressed to President Bush and Congress asking for multinational action against the genocide to protect the civilians of Darfur. Write one letter – that is the least you can do.

History shows that students have been key components in other social justice movements. The crisis in Darfur, though, brings new opportunity for students to be the leaders in a fight for the most basic human right – the right to life. People spoke of “never again” after the Holocaust. They uttered “never again” after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Now, genocide is happening again, and “never again,” can no longer remain hollow words.

So, why should you care about the world? Because in a few years, this world will be run by us, the students of today, and the cost of inaction is the blood of 400,000 and counting on our hands. Action is our obligation to humanity. This semester, write a letter, but also promote awareness, write an op-ed, a letter to an editor, attend a protest and join STAND. But, my fellow students, whatever you do, resist the label of apathy. The world is counting on us.

Erin Mazursky is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and campus coordinator for the National STAND Executive Committee.

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