Thursday, September 08, 2005

My mission for Students United for America

In the 2002-2003 academic year, I wrote this Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.) for Students United for America to compensate for our antiquated Mission Statement, which had defined the group as a reaction to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The original mission statement expressed a noble goal, but one unsuited to a long-term organization with a broader agenda. This FAQ's purpose was to define our transition from Students for Victory (SU4V) to Students for America (SU4A). Enjoy.

Students United for America at Columbia University
Frequently Asked Questions, Spring, 2003.

“Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. What does your group stand for?

The Students United for America (SU4A) does not confine itself to any single ideological, religious or political affiliation. The SU4A is defined, instead, by its core values, the guiding principles of Patriotism, Unity, a stronger, better America, and the conviction that diversity is America’s great strength.

2. What is Patriotism?

In the SU4A, our personal conceptions of Patriotism are as unique as our members. Each in our own way, we are dedicated to the welfare of our country and the American people. Patriotism is not, as it is often characterized, unconditional or blind support for the American government and its decisions. We firmly believe that it is our duty as Columbia students to critically explore the best ways to ensure America’s future, even if that means we disagree with our government.

3. Why did your group form and what purpose do you hope to achieve?

The group began after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as Students United for Victory (SU4V), a grassroots effort by Columbia students to promote the solidarity of all Americans in supporting our country’s efforts to defend the American people from terrorism at home and abroad. We are committed to supporting America’s fight against terrorism for the duration.

But more is needed from us. 9/11 awakened us to the dangers and challenges confronting America in an increasingly complex, uncertain world. As Students United for America, we embrace our shared responsibility to the American people. We expect that, guided by our core values, our experiences in the SU4A will prepare us for our future role as leaders of our nation.

4. Is your group affiliated with any other organizations?

The SU4A is an official member of Columbia’s Student Governing Board. While the group does not maintain a permanent affiliation with any other student or ex-campus organization, we often cooperate with other organizations. In the past, we have co-sponsored events with the University Chaplain, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Columbia University College Democrats, the Columbia College Republicans, the Columbia College Conservatives Club, the Columbia Political Union, the Federalist Society, the Columbia Anti-War Coalition, the United States Military Veterans of Columbia University, the Columbia Alumni United in Support of America, the Princeton Committee Against Terrorism, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy and the American Civil Liberties Union.

5. Who is eligible to become a member?

Any member of Columbia College, Barnard College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Teachers College, the School of General Studies, any Columbia graduate school, and affiliated faculty is eligible for membership. All people, including those not affiliated with Columbia University, are welcome to attend our events and contribute to our efforts.

6. What kind of people should join the SU4A?

We take great pride in the political, ethnic and religious diversity of our members, and we encourage independent thinkers to join us, no matter where their beliefs fall on the traditional political spectrum. We hope to attract people who feel, as we do, that we have a greater responsibility to our country and to the American people.

7. What are some of your accomplishments?

Our past events include the Rally for America on Dec. 7, 2001, the Civil-Military Affairs discussion with invited military students and Columbia student leaders on Feb. 9, 2002, the Concert for America on March 27, 2002, the ImagineNY workshop on April 20, 2002, the Return ROTC forum on April 28, 2002, the Rebuild New York forum with ImagineNY and Team Twin Towers on Sept. 10, 2002, the Arts Miles Murals Project on Sept 11, 2002, the 9/11 Reflections Room on Sept. 12, 2002, the annual “First Monday” forum with the ACLU on Oct. 7, 2002, the Muslims Against Terrorism forum on Nov. 7, 2002, the Democrats’ Iraq debate on Nov. 24, 2002, the CPU Iraq debate on Nov. 26, 2002 and the Support Our Heroes project. The SU4A has been featured in publications such as the Columbia Spectator, the New York Times, the New York Sun, and the Stars and Stripes.

8. Does your group support military action?

Unfortunately, resorting to military action is at times necessary, and we support the measures that are necessary to combat threats to our nation, including terrorism and the threat of terrorism. With heavy hearts, we accept that those measures will necessitate placing the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen of our nation’s military, as well as forces at home such as our police and firemen, in harm’s way. We firmly believe, however, that military action should be applied only with utmost wisdom and that military action by itself is not sufficient to resolve the dangers and challenges facing our nation.

9. What are your future goals?

In our own community of Columbia University and on a national level, we will continue to use our standing as students to practice the ideals represented by our core values. We will expand on existing initiatives such as the revitalization of New York City since 9/11, our support of our nation’s fight against terrorism, and our on-going campaign against racism and prejudice. In the best traditions of our university, we will academically address possible improvements to current national policies and issues that affect the fate of the American people, including but not limited to prejudice and human rights. We will promote rational dialogue on campus in place of combative rhetoric and build cooperation among hitherto alienated student organizations. Perhaps our most exciting initiative is the campaign to change Columbia policies that currently victimize ROTC and the military on campus.

10. Where can I learn more about the SU4A?

The SU4A’s official website can be found at

Feel free to contact President Jen Thorpe (*, Executive Vice-President Eric **** (* or Public Relations Vice-President Scott Zakheim (* to find out more about us.

Also see: Victory & Peace Statements by Students United for America

- Eric

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