By Tasha Sotomayor
On March 5, Lyle Stamps, a second-year law student at BYU, held a pro-war rally at the Federal Building in Salt Lake City. The only problem was no one showed up.
Stamps and his wife Lucina were the only two people to participate in the rally. Stamps will rally again in support of U.S. troops from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday on the ground of the old Utah County Courthouse on University and 1st South.
“BYU students had to drop out and can”t take classes while the rest of us are,” he said. “They”re defending our freedom. This is just to show support and solidarity for them. No one is pro (war), least of all the military. But in some circumstances war is necessary, and we need to respect those defending our freedom.”
Stamps, 28, from Clinton, Davis County, said the only appropriate thing at this point is to show support for those risking their lives.
Stamps went to Provo City and obtained an “Agreement for Special Outside Events.” He said the agreement had to go through six different approval processes before it was approved. Stamps said Provo is much more restrictive then Salt Lake City or the federal government.
Out of his own pocket, Stamps went and spent $150 on fliers and flags to pass out to students for free. He said he is asking students to wear them until U.S. troops come home.
BYU students can fill out an application for a request for public forum as long as the activities do not become disruptive of or in opposition to the purposes and uses of the university campus.
“I met with the associate dean of students and you fill out your application and you sit and you rot for weeks until the administration decides to tell you no,” Stamps said. “They won”t let me pass out fliers. They won”t do anything. You can”t even pass out a flier talking about something off campus unless you have approval. We may or may not decide to pass out fliers on campus regardless.”
Paul Warner, advisor of the College Republicans, said the general feeling of his students is supportive. The problem with asking students to rally, he said, is they are busy in the middle of the semester. He also said BYU has tried to be careful not to create too much controversy because other campuses are negative toward the government.
Warner said he has a number of international students with mixed feelings about the war and Muslim students who hate to see the war happen.
“The kids in my classes are interested and they talk about it,” Warner said. “Our kids have a tendency to be the kind that don”t have to go and be in a rally to be a part of something to express their support. They do it quietly and solidly.”
Warner said students here at BYU are serious about their studies and would just like to get through the curriculum, but he appreciates the fact students just want to see the war end with as little loss of life as possible.
Steven Flemming, advisor of the College Democrats, said rallies are a part of students” responsibilities for citizenship and that he is in favor of people having the opportunity speak out.
“I think that we are very intolerant,” Flemming said. “I think that when people get involved, they are more likely to be singled out. We are selected based on our ability to follow instructions and not step to the right or to the left. That doesn”t lend itself well to being different and speaking out and risking one”s status.”
Flemming said there are few who will participate in civil disobedience.
“There is a concern among students that speaking out might get them in trouble,” Flemming said. “You could say there”s oppression, but we”re not feeling it. It is just the way we are.”
Stamps said BYU students, especially because most of them are members of the Church of Jesus Christ, need to realize human rights belong to all people, even in Iraq.
“If we need to lose our lives, and if we need to lose our lives to secure liberty for all, we just need to remember the approach endorsed by Captain Moroni and the Founding Fathers,” Stamps said. “The entire concept of America is to bring liberty and democracy to all people everywhere.
“This is another phase, and now as a world we are moving towards that and not just as a few privileged countries. Everyone is entitled to these rights… Everyone on this campus can agree that we are children of God and should be able to live in a way we can exercise our rights. You can”t do that in Iraq. They can”t exercise their free agency, not to the extent we can and not to the extent God wants them to be able to.”
Stamps is a sergeant in the Utah Army National Guard and has friends who are soldiers that are currently risking their lives to fight.
“Students had to drop out of school and are fighting for their lives and for the liberty of the students here at BYU,” Stamps said. “BYU students should recognize the sacrifice fellow students have been called upon to make.”
As a soldier, Stamps said it is a demoralizing feeling to know the country is not supporting the troops. When people protest the war, he said, they are not supporting the troops.
“Our troops need to know and they deserve to know that we support them and what they are doing,” Stamps said.
Stamps encourages students to come to his rally and to bring American flags.
“If students can walk a half mile to campus, then they can walk a half mile to support our troops,” Stamps said.