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Students promise widespread walkouts at area schools
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U of M students Nathan Paulsen and Madeline Gardner are organizers with the U of M Coalition Against War on Iraq (Mary Losure)
Student organizers at the University of Minnesota say they expect students from 26 area schools to walk out the day after bombing begins in Iraq.

Minneapolis, Minn. — For months, a wide range of student groups has been organizing the protests. Nathan Paulsen is a junior at the University of Minnesota who's active with the U of M Coalition against War on Iraq. He says the Bush Administration is getting ready to spend billions of dollars to attack Iraq at a time when money for schools is being cut, tuition at the University of Minnesota has risen steeply, and many parents are hurting financially.

"By preparing to lead us into war, President Bush has shown himself to be blind to the needs of this nation. By giving the order to attack the Iraqi people, President Bush is signing away our futures," says Paulsen.

Student activists say high schools where students are planning to walk out include Maple Grove, Osseo, Anoka, Minneapolis South, Roosevelt, St. Paul Central, St. Paul Open, Highland Park, Cretin-Derham, St. Paul Academy, and Blake. Junior High's include Highland and Ramsey.

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Image Dan Weinand, a junior at Maple Grove Senior High School

Dan Weinand, a junior at Maple Grove Senior High School, read a statement to reporters.

"Young people are often credited with being the least socially and politically active group of Americans. This comes not from apathy but from a feeling of insignificance, a belief that they are incapable of making a difference... Despite recent events, we continue to hope for peace throughout this world. We are young, but we are still citizens of this country, this earth, and we will not stay silent."

Student activists say universities where students are expected to participate include the U of M, Hamline, Macalester, Augsburg, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, North Hennepin, and the College of St. Catherine.

U of M students are on spring break, but organizers say the protest will take place on the next school day following the bombing even if it occurs before U of M students return to classes.

Students are planning a noon rally in front of Northrop Auditorium and a 4 p.m. march to the Federal Building in Minneapolis.

Several of the student activists who spoke to reporters said once the war begins, they plan to move beyond rallies and demonstrations and begin acts of civil disobedience.

However, they said the student groups planning the the U of M rally and march have agreed that there will not be civil disobedience at that protest.

"We've trained approximately 50 peacekeepers and peace marshals to try to make sure everything runs as orderly as possible, and we are asking all participants in the walkout to behave in a peaceful and orderly fashion, " says Madeline Gardner, a U of M freshman and organizer with the U of M Coalition Against War on Iraq. "However, clearly we cannot control who shows up, nor can we enforce what individuals do, so we're doing everything in our power to make sure that the march is as peaceful as possible."

Organizers say the local walkout will be part of a much larger student protest. They expect millions of students worldwide to participate.

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