Thursday, April 19, 2012

PLU covers the night

Students organize independently to publicize KONY 2012 campaign

By Nick Neely, News Reporter

First-year Darien Upshaw organized a Kony 2012 event on his own. The event, Cover the Night, took place at sunset on Red Square April 20 at 7:30 p.m.

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Photo by G4GTi

“I felt like this needed to happen,” Upshaw said.

April 20 was the date of Cover the Night, according to the Invisible Children website. The Cover the Night event was dedicated to raising awareness about radical Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his enslaved child soldiers.

Kony kidnaps these children and forces them to kill one another and their families. Kony has roughly 300-400 of these children, Upshaw said. 

Students congregated at Red Square and discussed the events taking place in Uganda as well as put up posters about Kony around campus.

“The reason we want such a big group there is because we want to talk about what’s going on,” Upshaw said before the event.

Different organizations have suggested solutions to this problem. According to its video, the Invisible Children organization has sent representatives to discuss a peaceful resolution with Kony. The United Nations has also tried to intervene.  However, Kony continues to wage war with his captured children.

“A lot of people are discussing a military intervention, a lot of people are talking about funding,” Upshaw said.

Invisible Children is an organization created to rescue and rehabilitate Kony’s child soldiers by spreading awareness and gathering funds for the aid of these children. The movement started in 2002 and has recently resurged in popularity, Upshaw said.

This resurgence is due to a viral video created by Invisible Children’s co-founder, Jason Russell.

“They’re [the videos are] a powerful thing, and they’re the way to go if you want any kind of social movement to happen,” Upshaw said.

This new video started the Kony 2012 part of the Invisible Children movement, which seeks to raise awareness and action regarding Kony.

The most powerful things about viral videos is that they are less time consuming to watch, making them more popular with younger people, Upshaw said.

“It makes it simpler, it makes it faster,” Upshaw said.

Upshaw said the negativity following the initial Kony 2012 video was to be expected and even though there is controversy surrounding Russell, his video still did good for child soldiers in Uganda.

While the Invisible Children organization does visit schools to give presentations, they will not be attending the event at Red Square. Invisible Children visited PLU once before, Upshaw said.

Upshaw is not part of the on-campus Invisible Children club.

Senior Frank Roberts said he disagrees with the methods the Invisible Children organization’s methods.

“Overall, I think it’s [the KONY 2012 campaign] got very good intentions and it comes from a really good place. I just think it oversimplifies it.”

News Editor Amelia Heath contributed to this article.