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Kony 2012 sparks student interest

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The week of March 5, Joseph Kony was unavoidable.

“Kony 2012,” the 30-minute film by non-profit organization Invisible Children detailing the atrocities of Kony, a warlord who abducts children and forces them to fight for the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic of Congo, has had near constant exposure on every social media platform.<br/>

As of Wednesday, the video had nearly 84 million YouTube views.

There is little debate from supporters and skeptics over whether Kony and his followers should be tried as war criminals and stopped.<br/>

The rapid popularity of the movement, however, has many skeptics wondering if its momentum will last.

Senior Skylar Baker said once she saw the Kony 2012 video, she knew she wanted to help end the plight of these children.

“I think it’s part of being human,” Baker said. “When you watch this video and you see that kids are being abducted from their families, girls are sold in slavery and little boys are trained to become men by the age of 8 … it’s heartbreaking.”

Baker said she spoke to her clinical counseling class about the video and they were eager to get involved.<br/>

She and a group of classmates plan to hang posters in downtown Kansas City on April 20 for the Invisible Children event, Cover the Night.

“It’s kind of an Up ‘til Dawn idea, but it’s for everyone,” sophomore Alex Henning said. “Everyone’s going to do (something) on (a) specific night. They’re going to try to get as much information out as possible about Kony, about how to stop him, about what he’s doing, about what we can do to stop him and how we can raise funds for that.”

Henning said he plans on hanging posters on the Baker campus and organizing other campus activities to raise awareness.<br/>

Henning and Baker bought the action kit from Invisible Children that includes posters, T-shirts, wristbands and other items to draw attention to the movement.<br/>

Both students encouraged others to contact them if interested in participating in these efforts.

Pedro Dos Santos, instructor of political science and international studies, said his Global Problems class discussed the movement, and they were evenly divided on its effectiveness.

Some students were inspired by the video, while others saw Kony 2012 as a cause du jour.

Dos Santos said only time will show whether this experiment in activism will succeed, but in the meantime, students need to focus on educating themselves before getting involved in the situation.

“To go from caring about something to actually having a positive influence on the issue, that’s a major step,” Dos Santos said. “For you to get there, you need to read about it. Before you start making statements on Facebook and Twitter, you need to understand what’s going on.”

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