March 17, 2003

Gathering to focus on decorum

By Eric Rangus

Wednesday, March 19, 1 p.m., Emory Quadrangle.

That is the date, time and location (set aside prior to spring break) for Emory’s Classroom on the Quad (COQ), the University’s innovative plan to address a war against Iraq.

If war comes after that date, COQ can be implemented with 48 hours notice. If there is no war, then plans for COQ will be tucked into a file—a well-considered idea that circumstances wiped away.

“The situation has been changing on a day-to-day basis,” said Bruce Knauft, Samuel C. Dobbs Professor of Anthropology, one of COQ’s organizers. “We have no idea when or if anything will start. We’ll just need to make the call if something happens.”

Regardless of the date, COQ is scheduled for 1–3:30 p.m., with the steps of the Administration Building serving as the stage. Attendance, while not mandatory, is encouraged, and classes will not be canceled. Between 1,000 and 2,000 people are expected to attend, Knauft said.

Because of COQ’s scope and the seriousness of the subject matter, the event’s guidelines are strict. Four moderators—creative writing’s Jim Grimsley (see First Person), Knauft, SGA President Chris Richardson and College Council President Purvi Patel—will keep tabs on the speakers and the crowd as well as enforce the five-minute time limit for presenters.

Security will be visible but not oppressive, and there will be a focus on civility. Banners will not be allowed, and planners have taken care to separate like-minded speakers so that, for example, four anti-war speakers will not be grouped together.

“If you don’t like one opinion, wait a few minutes and there will be another one,” Knauft said.

“We wanted to make it very clear that people should come to listen, not to demonstrate,” Grimsley said.

Because of the event’s fluidity, most of the speakers are tentative, but that doesn’t mean community members are staying away. “There was a groundswell of interest all across the spectrum of opinion, both for and against war,” Knauft said. “Everybody’s been enthusiastic about participating in this event.”

“We would meet with people, then word-of-mouth would just take over,” said Donna Wong, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

In addition to the four moderators, faculty from political science, religion, anthropology and sociology are scheduled to speak, students whose interests are relevant to the debates along with representatives of College Republicans, Young Democrats and other organizations will take the stage as well as staff. Chace will deliver the final five-minute address (titled “The United States is Never Alone”), and musician Myron McGee, also a staff member in Woodruff Library, will perform.