Tuesday, September 19, 2006

U of Buffalo Students Question Value of HHDL as Speaker

Protest Is Planned, "I don't think we have to believe everything he does" summarizes UB student

As reported by the Spectrum (UB campus newspaper)

Though the message of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is likely to be about finding common ground and peace, some members of the UB community do not see the purpose of such a figure speaking, and a small group of them have planned a demonstration.

Over the past few weeks there has been an onslaught of information and resources made available to students and community members who are interested in the visit and life of the Dalai Lama.

Though a small demonstration is planned for Tuesday at 1 p.m. in front of UB Stadium, the majority of the community is accepting, including several different religious groups on and off campus.

The UB police are taking special concerns with such a large occasion, but have they have not overlooked possible protestors.

"For any major event we would set up an area for people to protest," said UB Chief of Police Gerald Schoenle. "We're not anticipating anything major but we need to be ready if there are people out who want to express their constitutional rights."

With the vast amount of outside participation in the events, the chance for non-UB oriented protest is not out of the question, but the University Police are not overly worried.

"There may be some outside protest, but again we don't anticipate anything major," Schoenle said. "I'm not concerned about that; I don't think it will be a problem."

Most religious groups on campus have said they are very accepting of the Dalai Lama's visit.

Members of the Hillel of Buffalo were extremely excited about the opportunity to hear the religious and philosophical lead speak.

"I think it's amazing, he is one of the biggest international figures in the world," said Billy Baxter, treasurer of the Hillel of Buffalo, which is the on-campus national organization of the Jewish faith.

Some students, like jnior English major Kevin Leatherbarrow, question the purpose for the Dalai Lama's visit.

"I don't think we should have got him in the first place," Leatherbarrow said. "I think it's a waste of money, and what real educational value is in this?"

At the Bridge Campus Ministries (Commons Christian Fellowship) Pastor Alexander Tullis shed some light on possible reasons why some in the UB community didn't see the affects of the visit.

"I have nothing against the Dalai Lama, but it's easy to be that way," Tullis said. "It's very nice, but it's too dreamy. It is about peace, and I think it's wonderful in that sense."

At Monday's interfaith service, there will be members from both on- and off-campus religious organizations in attendance. Father Robert E. Zapfel of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was positive about the visit.

"He is certainly received as someone who promotes peace. This is an opportunity for us all to recommit ourselves to the kind of justice that gives lasting peace," Zapfel said. "For many Christians his teachings would be something one would find interesting and applicable to our lives. He speaks about peace and justice, and those are the longings of every heart."

The president of the Chinese Student Association was objective about the events surrounding the Dalai Lama's visit.

"We welcome him coming to the school," said Dik Sze (Daisy) Wong. "As students we should listen to the message he is bringing and learn from the good things he is teaching. But I don't think we have to believe everything he does."