By Alia Wilson
With the death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq up to 2,800, UC Santa Cruz coordinators hoping to set up a memorial this week to commemorate the fallen soldiers were unable to find room to display placards in one place.
Two years ago, College Nine and College Ten hosted a similar memorial, but because the death toll has risen so significantly since then, the thousands of black and white placards of the dead soldier’s ghostly images now dot various locations throughout upper campus.
Colleges Nine and Ten have teamed up with Crown and Merrill in a collaborative effort to bring a non-partisan message to students during the week of both the elections and Veteran’s Day.
Noting the massive growth of the memorial, Erin Ramsden of the College Nine Co-Curricular Office said, "Unfortunately it’s twice as big now. Whether you are for the war or against the war, this is the fact."
Memorials for soldiers who were killed in the years 2003 and 2006 can be found at College Nine, while those that died in 2004 and 2005 can be found at Crown and Merrill.
Fall Leadership Institute volunteers of the College Nine organization as well as other student volunteers, helped to set up the placards on campus with hopes to raise awareness of the rising soldier death toll in Iraq.
Jarrod Sport, a College Nine student volunteer, was impressed with the display in past years and wanted to help make it happen again this year.
"I saw the effects it had and thought it was a wonderful idea," Sport said. "My friend from middle school, Angelo Zawaydeh died last March while fighting in Iraq so that gave me a personal connection to this project."
Jose Reyes-Olivas of the College Nine Co-Curricular Program explained that they had originally intended to build their display at the base of campus, but the university declined their application.
"We were denied permission because they said that it would be a distraction for cyclists coming up Bay Street," Olivas said with a sigh. "When our request was turned down we only had the option to host a part of it at Nine and Ten and Crown and Merrill."
Third-year Crystal White says she is planning to bring flowers to Crown the site of the placard for her second cousin, Adrian Orosco."He was 26 years old and had a wife and three kids between the ages of three and seven," White said. "It’s really scary to see how many people who have died are so young. It really hits home."
However, some onlookers did not approve of the location of the display.
"It interferes with our normal life," said a UCSC staff member who wished to remain nameless. "The entire campus populace is either indifferent or ignorant to the issues at hand. MTV or Paris Hilton seems to have more importance."
A student volunteer who asked to be only identified as Matt, felt compelled to participate in the project.
"I just hope that when people see this, they realize that there are people our age and that it will affect their view of what is going on overseas."