Last Thursday on a freezing cold and windy night, more than 250 students gathered at Elliott Tower to light a candle and march in defense of peace and to honor those killed in the recent ISIS attacks in Paris and Beirut.
“The main aim of our march was to demonstrate unity,” President of the Chaldean American Student Association at Oakland University Halim Sheena said. “ISIS and other hate groups try to sow fear, distrust and hate among all people. We wanted to demonstrate that no matter how hard they try, they will never split us up,” Sheena said.
Candles were passed out to start off the event followed by speakers Zayneb Fahs and Halim Sheena before the group headed out to walk. The march consisted of a loop around the west side of campus from the clock tower, past Dodge Hall, around the OC, across Bear Lake and back around to the clock tower.
OU CASA put on the march as a continuation of their Awareness Month efforts around campus. Throughout November, through bright signs, chalking the sidewalks, bake sales and tabling in the OC, OU CASA has been working to raise awareness of the ISIS situation in Iraq and Syria as well as fundraise for individuals and families who have been displaced due to an ISIS threat.
“We view [raising awareness] as one of our responsibilities because for the last year and a half, ISIS has directly impacted the historic areas where Chaldeans are natively from. Although the attacks in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere didn’t specifically target or affect Chaldeans, we understand that ISIS is currently at war with humanity, and an attack on one is an attack on all,” Sheena said.
OU CASA’s stance on humanity needing to unify in order to fight ISIS was shown when they reached out to Oakland’s student organizations to come together for the cause.
“The planning of this event was very last minute and we knew it would be tough to get a great turnout like we had. The student orgs helped us out a lot because the one thing they brought to us was the people,” Vice President of OU CASA Fadi Sadik said.
By the time of the event, over 30 student organizations had pledged support for the march.
“The student organizations all advertised the event and most even made sure that their e-boards were in attendance. That definitely makes us hopeful for future joint-effort events because I think we all learned how easy it is for us to work together and how large an event can be if we all just simply advertise out. United together, we can make big things happen,” Sheena said.
Following the candlelight march, the next event up for OU CASA is a visit from Rafed Yaldo on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at noon. Yaldo is the founder of “Help Iraq,” the main relief agency that aids people who have been displaced by ISIS. OU CASA has yet to announce their event schedule for next semester however students can stay up to date on their activity by following @OU_CASA on Twitter and Intstagram, Snapchat: ou_casa or visit their Facebook page. They meet at 5:30 p.m. in the Kresge Library every Tuesday.
OU CASA provides a network between the Chaldean community and Oakland University students. They currently have 260 active members, many of which are not Chaldean as the organization welcomes students of all backgrounds to join. Students interested in joining can sign up at OU CASA meetings or any of their on-campus activities.