Loquitur war coverage: from Vietnam to Ukraine


By Chris Perri
April 29, 2024

The headline of the 1972 Villanova peace rally article. Photo courtesy of Jerry Zurek.
The headline of the 1972 Villanova peace rally article. Photo courtesy of Jerry Zurek.

Throughout the publication’s history, Loquitur reporters have covered anti-Vietnam War protests, as well as the wars in Iraq and Ukraine, giving a unique perspective to each. 

The Vietnam era

Loquitur reporters wrote about the anti-Vietnam War sentiment that had largely garnered support from young Americans. One such story covered a peace rally held at Villanova University with actress and activist Jane Fonda. 

The story on the Villanova peace rally ran in the Loquitur on October 31, 1972, and was written by Terry Cavanaugh. The rally itself occurred on September 29 of that year, and featured speeches from Fonda, folk singer Holly Near, anti-war activist and former California state senator Tom Hayden, and a Vietnamese girl named Li-On Thieu. 

Activist and former California state senator Tom Hayden, 1976. Photo by William S. Murphy via Wikimedia Commons.

Hayden addressed the crowd with criticism of the Nixon administration and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu. He also sharply called out the secrecy of the American government about its activity in Vietnam, specifically the Pentagon Papers. “There has never been two Vietnams except in the American imagination,” he said. Hayden concluded, “The only way to be patriotic is to do what is good for America, to resist this war now, in action, so that historians will write a history that future generations can be proud of.”

In her remarks, Fonda declared, “The forces that are now ruling this country are tampering with our minds, and we must free our minds.” She also told the audience that the 1972 presidential election was a time for people to think for themselves. “Democracy is not blind obedience to [the Nixon administration] who is lying to us,” she said. The election would see President Richard Nixon defeat Georgia Senator George McGovern in a landslide win. 

Voices from Iraq and Ukraine

With the U.S. involved in conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s, and with Ukraine and Russia currently fighting a war, the Loquitur provided stories from a variety of viewpoints. 

Christine Kulp, a 2009 Cabrini graduate, wrote and edited for the Loquitur from 2007-2009. In 2008, she wrote a story about an Iraqi student at Villanova who fled the war to study in the United States. “Stories of Iraqi refugees and the need for aid in Iraq were making national headlines,” Kulp said. “[Journalism professor Dr. Jerry Zurek] informed the news team about a student Iraqi refugee at Villanova. I volunteered, not entirely knowing what to expect.”

Kulp said that she did not conduct much research, instead choosing to focus on the humanitarian element rather than approach it as a hard news piece. “I simply listened to her story,” Kulp said. 

In the article, Kulp touched on the source’s dire situation surrounding her education. She detailed the source’s graduation from high school and acceptance into her dream college. “Her most prized possession was her education. For as long as she could remember she wanted to be a doctor and attend medical school,” Kulp wrote. “Upon high school graduation she received her wish and was one of the 250 students accepted into the school of her dreams… She lived her ‘perfect life’ for a year as a university student, but each day was lived in constant fear, with no sense of safety or security at all. It was just a matter of time before getting hurt.”

Kulp also was careful to avoid politics and controversy, issues that largely underscored the conflict. “We chatted as any two college students would about lighter topics, but the weight of her experiences was heavy,” Kulp said. “I felt a slight unease running the story, considering the potential risk to her safety. I aimed to avoid delving into the political aspects. My focus was on sharing her personal story, highlighting the human side of the war rather than its political dimensions.” 

Writing the story created a lasting impact on Kulp. “The experience added a layer of empathy and anxiety to my life, even to this day. It underscored the reality of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of conflict,” she said. 

Kulp also stressed the importance of war reporting. “Often, we in America feel insulated from such tragedies of war. From the conflict in Ukraine to the ongoing crises between Israelis and Palestinians and beyond, encountering humanitarian narratives in the news is undeniably heart-wrenching,” she said. “However, it is also vital for fostering understanding and spurring action. Whether through advocacy, donations to relief efforts, or gaining insights into political candidates’ stances on pertinent issues, these stories compel us to engage responsibly and effectively, particularly when exercising our right to vote in elections.” 

Andrienko and her family. Photo courtesy of Dasha Andrienko.

More recently, the Loquitur produced a story about a former Wayne, Pa resident living in Ukraine named Dasha Andrienko, who works to help refugees from the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. Loquitur reporter Lashay Smith, a 2023 Cabrini graduate, wrote an article featuring Andrienko and her work. Additionally, Smith and fellow reporter Jacob Pegan, also a 2023 graduate, hosted a podcast with Andrienko to give her a platform to answer questions and speak on her experiences. The podcast marked a shift towards multimedia storytelling in addition to print journalism, allowing a new medium for sources to tell their stories.

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Chris Perri

My name is Chris Perri, and I'm a sophomore digital communications and social media major from Havertown, PA. This is my first year working on the Loquitur, and I look forward to learning how to report accurately and effectively, as well as working with and learning from the editors and photographers. My main interests within reporting are sports, current events, and local news. After college, I hope to pursue a career in journalism or somewhere in the social media industry. I'm hoping to possibly intern in the field of social media marketing, which is a specific interest of mine. Outside of school, I'm passionate about listening to and writing music. I've played the guitar since 2016, and spent time in a band from 2017-2020. I also hope to get into photography and videography, which I took an interest in after taking a basic photography class in high school, as well as video production here at Cabrini.

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