STAND’s concert for Darfur to raise awareness

Tara Powers

Students Taking Action Now: Darfur will host a benefit concert tonight in the Villanova Room of Connelly Center.

The concert will last from 7-10 p.m., and will feature performances by Feathertops, El Fuego and Blessed Muthas. Villanova sophomore Brian Czenszak will also make a special musical guest appearance with two friends.

STAND is a national organization, whose official name is STAND: a Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. It is the student division of the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-Net) that acts as an umbrella organization for more than 600 college and high school student awareness groups across the country.

Villanova has had a chapter since April 2004, but it saw a recent revitalization in spring 2007.

“It had kind of faded out,” Co-Chair of Education Michael Stewart said. “Now we’ve gone up to 55 members, with more freshmen, sophomores and juniors than seniors.”

STAND co-sponsored the Battle of the Bands at Milkboy last year and is planning a Genocide Awareness Week for later this year.

This event will feature speakers and a historical documentary, and Stewart hopes to have it classified as a cultural event for freshman Augustine and Culture Seminar classes.

STAND recently completed a letter-writing campaign to the House of Representatives and Senate members of Pennsylvania, asking for financial support for peacekeeping dues and economic sanctions on Sudan’s government.

Feathertops, one of the featured bands, is a local group. The members have worked with various charity groups in the past and refuse to take any of the profits from the events.

“We try to do as many fundraisers as we can,” said Val Zanolle, manager for Feathertops. “So many people don’t even know where Darfur is, so this helps on a lot of levels.”

Jessica Morales, a representative from the national STAND organization and junior at Rosemont College pursuing a concentration in Villanova’s Peace and Justice program, will make a presentation about the situation in Darfur during set changes.

The genocide in Darfur, Sudan began in 2003.

Since then, more than 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million supplanted in the government-supported massacres, which pit the Sudanese military and Janjaweed militia group against rebel groups such as the Sudan Liberation Group.

Students and organizations all over the world have dedicated time and service to raising awareness and funds to help the victims.

The money raised by Villanova’s chapter of STAND goes to African Union peacekeepers who manage firewood patrols.

Such patrols are needed to prevent the high numbers of rapes that take place when tribal women leave their refugee camps to collect firewood.

“We go to Villanova University in a nice section of Pennsylvania, and we live in our own little bubble,” Stewart said. “You hear about this on the news, and this is an outlet where … we really are doing something.”

Tickets are available at the door for $6, and T-shirts and wristbands will be for sale.