Mollie Murphy, co-president of the UC Santa Cruz chapter of STAND and a Crown College fourth-year majoring in sociology. She was one of a dozen students who participated in a die-in event on May 5 to bring awareness of the genocide around the world to the UCSC students.
City on a Hill Press: What is the die-in event and what is its significance?
Murphy: A die-in is a visual demonstration, similar to a protest but a little bit less. Our group dressed in all black and laid down on the ground, first on the College Nine and Ten lawn for an hour and [now] at the Quarry Plaza, with tombstones to symbolize all the deaths of the victims of genocidal crimes and mass atrocities. My tombstone said, “Hitler is alive in Darfur, in Sudan, and his name is Omar al-Bashir.” The idea behind that is that similar genocide crimes that happened during the Holocaust are happening in Sudan right now. [Sudan] is getting a lot less publicity and people are paying a lot less attention. It is meant to link that past, the Holocaust, to things that are going on today to raise awareness.
CHP: Why are you interested in spreading awareness about this issue?
Murphy: I want to find a career in human rights, and this is an important human rights issue. I’m concerned with how people across the globe are treated and respected. I think I chose this issue because it means the most to a huge amount of people. It’s a logistically complex issue, but an ethically simple issue. Nobody is for genocide. It’s hard to imagine that people would commit mass murders against each other. Eradicating the world of genocide is probably one of the most important steps to having global peace, global cooperation and respect between cultures.
CHP: Why do you think this is the best way to get people’s attention?
Murphy: I think when people have a more visual kind of cue it’s a little bit more shocking and can hit home a little bit more. The idea is not to be abrasive or to guilt people. It’s just a statement, a vigil to bring people close to something that is happening far away, especially for students who live on campus or who never have really heard about these issues. We are trying to make it easier to grasp in a lot of ways, and sometimes visual demonstrations help that.
CHP: How do you hope this will impact UCSC students?
Murphy: We are hoping to create an atmosphere of solidarity between people in all countries, and to raise awareness and create a compassionate energy towards people who have to face these crimes or these kinds of circumstances every day. The hope is to get students here interested and get them to care about stopping genocide on the planet.
It’s going to be a slow process, and we expect it to be years and years, but we hope to empower students to feel that they have connections with people across the world and to feel that they can actually take part. A lot of times, students hear what is going on and it’s really scary, which it is, and it is hard to understand how we can help people or help these kinds of situations because it’s such a big problem and it’s so drastic and tragic. The idea is to hopefully give students really easy ways they can make a difference and to advocate for those who need it.
CHP: How do you plan to impact this campus outside of STAND?
Murphy: We are now working on a coalition for conflict-free UC, so we are trying to reach out to the other UC campuses. There is a genocidal situation in the Congo and there is a lot of violence centered around mines. Tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are minerals that are found in every single cellphone, computer and pretty much every electronic item in the world. It’s a large western demand that is fueling violent rebel groups that are controlling the mines, burning villages, kidnapping children to become child soldiers and murdering a lot of people so that they have access to these resources that we are creating demand for. What our campus is doing, and what our students are doing outside of STAND, is hopefully creating a coalition of student and faculty on all the UC campuses to ask the administration to start investing responsibly in electronic companies, so that they directly check their supply chain and do not supply the conflicted area and the specific mines that are a part of this. Stanford and Penn State have already passed this legislation, but the UC system is a little bit more complex because there are 10 campuses. There is no way to invest in it responsibly right now, so we are trying to create ways for consumers to do that.
CHP: Do you plan on going to Africa and helping with the issues there, or are you mostly interested in raising awareness here?
Murphy: I would love to go there but have not been able to because of a medical condition. I have had a heart transplant and my cardiologists get mad at me when I talk about going. Places that I might be at a high risk of infection I’m not recommended to go to. If I were to go, I think I would love to go somewhere with an open mind and get to know the people and then start trying to use resources that I have to do what they need. I would not necessarily know, standing here at UCSC in California, what they need as a community. I would love to go immerse myself in the culture, get to know the people and then do what I can to help. Invisible Children is inventing radio systems to alert people when the rebel groups are around, hopefully I can do some work with that — anything on the ground that engages people, I would love to do.