Newton North Students Protest Hypocrisy

 

This past May, Newton North High School (NNHS) held a new event, Middle East History Day, during which invited speakers gave presentations throughout the day. We, the NNHS Peace Action Club, were thrilled that faculty and students began open conversations about the Middle East. However, we noticed some hypocrisy in the criteria that the NNHS set for the speakers.

In October of last year, NNHS Peace Action planned to invite Phyllis Bennis, an analyst and writer on the Middle East, to give a presentation about Syria. This proposal was denied because of concerns that Ms. Bennis would spark controversy because she has been critical of Israel’s actions and policies — although the event was to focus entirely on Syria — and the administration did not feel that there was sufficient time to prepare for the expected backlash.

Interested starting a student chapter? Read how here

Then, only a week before Middle East History Day, we learned that the members of the Jewish Student Union had invited Arielle Schwartz, the New England Progressive Outreach Director from AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the powerful, explicitly pro-Israel political lobbying group without previous notifications to the main organizers of the event. If controversy and time constraints made NNHS draw the line at hosting Phyllis Bennis, so should have AIPAC caused discomfort for the administration. But the AIPAC speaker was confirmed.

The NNHS Peace Action responded accordingly: during the AIPAC presentation, two Jewish students held a banner that read “AIPAC does not represent us / Not in our name! #JewishResistance,” and as the audience left the presentation, three other students distributed flyers that gave context on what AIPAC really stands for. The entire protest was civil and nondisruptive, and we hope the administration takes a lesson from our response.

Sure, the Middle East History Day did offer a range of speakers with differing perspectives, including MAPA’s Jeff Klein who discussed Syria; and sure, clubs and students of whatever political stripe may invite whomever they choose. But since that privilege was not extended to my club with Phyllis Bennis, the school should at least have been consistent with the precedent it had set. This incident also prompts these questions: what narratives are schools willing to sanction? When a pro-peace speaker is considered too controversial but rabidly pro-Israel AIPAC is accepted, whose free speech seems to matter more?

From Local Student to Global Citizen: Matthew Hahm

Matthew Hahm, president of Boston College’s student chapter, was accustomed to hearing about war and its inevitableness, but it wasn’t until he took a certain course during his junior year as an undergraduate at Boston College that he was offered an alternative. Through his learning, peace became a possibility to him.

“That course really helped me see that one of the biggest things that we need to do is just try to imagine peace,” said Hahm. “If you believe that it’s not possible, then it will never be possible.”

The following summer, Hahm – originally from Washington state – interned with Massachusetts Peace Action, hoping to help turn around the foreign policy he realized was “wicked” and “corrupt.” The internship gave him the opportunity to attend the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with MAPA executive director Cole Harrison. He also went to Washington, D.C. for the Climate March and sat on a student panel at a peace convention.

“MAPA has a lot of cool opportunities for students and interns,” said Hahm. “I think what I gained the most from MAPA was knowledge. The people that work for Peace Action are extremely knowledgeable and very aware of what is going on… they dig beneath the headlines.”

Interested in becoming a Student Organizer? Read more here

During his senior year at Boston College, Hahm started a MAPA student chapter. The club hosted a nuclear weapons educational event, which gathered a sizable crowd for a new organization. After graduating this spring, Hahm left the club to grow in the hands of two co-leaders while he pursues work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. For the next two years, Hahm will help with pastoral ministry work in the parish of a Belize community.

“The idea of being a global citizen is connected to my faith,” said Hahm, a student of sociology and theology. “We shouldn’t see ourselves separate from another, and we need to see how one policy here can affect other people across the world. It’s not right if we infringe on somebody else’s rights so that we can gain more as a nation.”

2017 Campus Update

Compassion. Equality. Social Justice. These are just some of the answers given when Micaela Fraccolossi, previous President of Emmanuel Peace Action, asked a group of demonstrators to describe what peace meant to them. In early December, our student chapters, led by Newton South Peace Action, joined with other allies to organize in front of the Massachusetts State House. They were protesting against the appointments of Steven Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn, all who represented the recent frightening turn in US politics. Yet, as dark as that turn has been, the students’ December demonstration and subsequent efforts gives us a glimpse into a more hopeful future. Our student leaders continue to promote peace, in all of its interpretations.

The candlelight demonstration was one of many highlights from our students’ efforts this fall. Other notable events and initiatives included the Phyllis Bennis talks at Brandeis, Tufts, and Emmanuel; Harvard Peace Action’s dinner discussion with Martin Malin, the Executive Director of the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center; and workshops led by the Newton North and Emmanuel chapters presidents at our fall conference, which also attracted various student club members. Brandeis Peace Action also achieved official recognition and Boston College launched their club.Tufts Open Mic Night

The spring semester promises a host of exciting activities for our students. Some possible initiatives include a Tufts open Mic Night, a brown bag lunches series at Emmanuel, collaborations with Pugwash through Harvard, and an information panel with the ACLU at Newton North. Newton South recently hosted Angela Kelly and Reese Erlich at an on-campus event that drew over 100 students.

In early April, all of our student clubs will join together for a training day led by Mass Alliance. There, they will spend time learning about power mapping and campaign planning, and then apply these tactics to the issues on which they focus. We want to empower our students by providing them with a range of tools; this way, they can pursue the issues that impassion them.

In a similar push towards student empowerment, our Boston College and Tufts chapters recently attended a student conference hosted by Peace Action New York State. The conference was weekend-long event, with 100 students and 9 partner organizations including Amnesty International, CODEPINK, and Global Zero. Student were educated and trained about various issues, from humanitarian medical efforts to de-escalation instruction. From meeting with Congressman Tonko, the keynote speaker, to collaborating with fellow peace-minded students, the trip inspired our students, and is sure to energize their efforts now that they are back in Boston.

With MAPA’s annual meeting and the DC trip on the horizon, our students will continue to grow their knowledge and network, proving themselves invaluable to the peace movement. Their impact is evidenced by the number of students and community members they consistently reach. Help us keep growing their numbers by donating to MAPA and by emailing me about interested Student Organizer candidates. We can guarantee a peace movement tomorrow by supporting our students today.

Thoughts on the Technologies of Peace conference

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a conference called Technologies of Peace, which brought together US high school students from Boston and Japanese students from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We learned about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki archives, an interactive mapping tool that allows people to view historical and current maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, chronicling the history since the atomic bombings interspersed with stories from survivors.

 
The conference started with an analysis of how badly the US educational system deals with the story of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In many schools, two simplistic narratives are offered: either that using nuclear weapons was necessary because the Japanese were fanatical and an invasion would have been much worse (in terms of US casualties, which is all that matters), or else that it was a triumph of technology and helped us fight communism. In any case, the human casualties in Japan resulting from our dropping of nuclear bombs are never really faced.

Furthermore, the stories we’re taught in school rely, maybe just implicitly, on racist imagery of the Japanese as war-crazed and so dangerous that any drastic measures were justified. My school, Newton North High School, taught along the lines of the unfortunate-but-necessary rationale, which awards greater value to US lives and also conveniently ignores other nuances of the war, like the US military’s desire to use the last undamaged Japanese cities as a testing ground for new weapons technology, and the Japanese military’s desire to prolong the war and get better terms of surrender. Japanese curricula also lack understandings of more than the Japanese perspective, but some students from Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the conference described their school’s peace studies curriculum, like signature-gathering activities for nuclear abolition and collecting stories and interviews of Hibakusha to add to the archive.

 
I think it’s an interesting note that technology can play such a positive role in helping to understand other very destructive technologies like nuclear weapons. Professor Hidenori Watanave, who convened the conference, calls the mapping a time machine, which is an accurate phrase — and it’s a time machine that is especially critical as the hibakusha, atomic bombing survivors, age (their average age is over 80 now). It’s all the more urgent to use this time machine, to collect their stories and their messages.

 
One message that rang particularly clear at the conference was that we are responsible for the future. Peace is possible. We must remember what happened to civilians and cities because peace is our work now, we the young activists of today and tomorrow. The baton has been passed to us; we owe the (relative) peace we’ve been able to grow up in to the efforts of those who came before, and we must continue that work.

– Newton North High School Peace Action club president

So Long Summer

The heat of summer is still on us but school is officially just around the corner. For our student organizers the fall semester means planning for club fairs, hosting an interest meeting, firming up executive boards, and outlining goals for the coming school year. And for Brandeis and Tufts, the fall semester is an exciting opportunity for them to achieve official recognition.

While our organizers are certainly heading into a busy fall, they have by no means been inactive this summer. Remy Pontes spent much of his summer interning at our Cambridge office while Haleigh Copley showcased her dedication by hosting a Tufts Peace Action meeting from China and later attending the 2016 World Conference against A&H Bombs in Japan.

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Our high school organizers have also been busy preparing for an exciting opportunity at this fall’s Technologies of Peace Summit, where students from New York, Boston and Japan will learn peace lessons from the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Digital Archives. And excitingly, two of our summer interns, Matthew Hahm and Daniel Perea-Kane, will be kicking off a new student chapter at Boston College. For being on summer break, our students have certainly managed to accomplish a lot.

Wanting to ensure that the organizers hit the ground running this fall, I have spent much of summer busily compiling supporting materials. From new and detailed speaker lists to presentation guides to issue fact sheets, MAPA’s organizers now have access to an array of resources to support their individual campaigns.

Alongside resource compilation, I also spent time checking in with working group leaders, MAPA members, and meeting other Peace Action representatives. Student organizing was a hot topic at our Northeast Retreat where other Peace Action affiliates learned about the steps needed to initiate a Student Organizing program. Peace Action New York State’s Director of Policy and Outreach, Kate Alexander, and I led a discussion about our current structure, as well as the successes and failures we have both experienced. Importantly, the conversation shifted to consider the role of youth in the peace movement and how we can better support their engagement. Moving forward, expect exciting new initiatives such as a young alumni network and meetings with a social component.

Here’s to hoping that such a productive and promising summer points to an equally inspiring fall. 

 

Reflections on the Orlando Shootings – Words from Newton South Peace Action President

One death is one too many. When 33,000 gun deaths occur annually, gun reform is something that every single one of us, no matter which party we support, should fight for. This is no longer a matter of what is right or wrong. This is a matter of life and death.

Every time a mass shooting occurs, we send our thoughts and prayers, but when will we stand up and offer solutions? It isn’t enough to say that we are “deeply saddened” and then continue going about our lives. It isn’t enough to wear the color orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day or light candles for the innocent lives that have been lost. It isn’t enough to promise “not one more” but stand idly by as the number of victims to senseless gun violence increases day by day. NOTHING will ever be enough until every single one of us takes action.

Here are the facts: The shooter in Orlando used the same military-grade assault rifle (AR-15) that was used in Newtown, San Bernardino, Aurora, and many other shootings. It can fire bullets as fast as a person can squeeze the trigger.

I’d like to hear if anyone from the NRA can explain how this type of weapon is necessary to shoot a deer or defend your home from an attacker.

Unfortunately, at this moment we find ourselves at yet another turning point in America’s path and rather than merely sending our condolences and telling ourselves that we’ve accomplished something we must choose to take a firm stand against gun violence. We must stand up to politicians who prioritize their popularity with the NRA above their dedication to American lives. We must restore the CDC’s freedom to study the issue of gun violence. We must reach out to our local and federal officials and urge them to support universal background checks to reduce violence. We must insist that assault weapons have no place beyond the battlefield.

In addition to our mourning must come the conviction that we will do everything in our power to keep tragedies like this from ever happening again.

Kimia Tabatabaei, President of Peace Action Chapter at Newton South High School (Newton, MA)

Build a Student Peace Chapter

Interested in building a student peace chapter? In the past year, Massachusetts Peace Action has developed seven student chapters at colleges, universities, and high schools. We are passionate about our work and excited to share our knowledge and hopefully receive feedback on best practices!

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When building a student chapter, our top priority is attracting and retaining a dedicated Student Organizer for each campus group. Each Student Organizer (SO) is in charge of developing and maintaining his or her chapter, which means a chapter’s success depends on the success of the organizer. In order to find the right candidates, we focus on a few basic recruitment strategies and then prioritize candidates based on target criteria.

Recruitment Strategies:

  1. Massachusetts Peace Action Events: MAPA hosts multiple events throughout the year, many of which appeal to students. By ensuring that these events are advertised to our target audience, we can expect to meet and mingle with students who are already interested in our campaigns and have received an introduction to our organization
  2. Direct professor outreach: Teachers, instructors, and professors  – as well as other community leaders – are the direct links to our students. Their daily student interactions make them crucial allies because they have the knowledge and ability to recommend likely candidates
  3. Maintaining an active social media presence: Our social networks are where students go to become familiar with our persona. Social allows them to engage with the culture that supports the issues we promote.
  4. Internship postings: Simply and effective, a strategically written internship posting on the top sites and school career portals will bring results

Now, on to our Target Criteria when interviewing and selecting Student Organizers:

  1. Passion for the peace movement: Campus organizing takes work and requires independent initiative. Students who are already invested in the peace movement are far more likely to take the extra steps needed. To do this work well, they need to believe in it.
  2. Leadership abilities: Organizing a chapter means stepping out of your comfort zone; it means standing up in front of classes and pitching your ideas; it means asking uncomfortable questions, talking to people you have not met, and not getting frustrated when your efforts don’t always get results. In other words, organizing a chapter requires a true leader.
  3. Campus Involvement: Whether a high school or a college, educational institutions are usually buried in red tape. For every written rule there are two to three unwritten stipulations, never mind the ever-changing social expectations. Students who are already familiar with the ins and outs of campus bureaucracy are one step ahead of the game.

These tried and true methods have allowed us to identify and work with incredible student leaders. Their work inspires our continued efforts and makes us excited to build future chapters. Our methods are constantly evolving but we hope our baseline offers food for thought for other organizations. Let’s collaborate soon!

Some Peace Activists in DC

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Part 1: The Meeting

So this past May, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Peace Action National Organizers Meeting in Washington DC with MAPA. To start off, I would like to make two observations:

1.) – Cole Harrison of MAPA is basically one of the most hardcore (in a good way) people I know. To be able to spend a day of intense lobbying and then proceed to drive for 8+ hours straight is mind-blowing.

2.) – Saying this experience had a monumental influence on myself as an activist and leader is a total understatement and I can’t wait to apply what I learned to Tufts Peace Action.

Although the first few days of the National Meeting were mostly logistical, it was fascinating to see the inner workings of how grassroots organizations function-how they interact with each other, what they do in the face of obstacles, the issues they deliberate, how they campaign and so forth; It gave me a rare view of Peace Action’s inner workings and its leaders. It’s amazing to think that of the roughly 30 affiliate organizations present (like MAPA and TPA), each one of these organizations also has their own agendas and way of doing things, proving that grassroots organizing is much more complicated than I first thought. Interestingly, Cole Harrison of MAPA stated during one of the meetings that in order to grow as an organization, Peace Action must take more active measures to increase diversity in membership regarding race, socioeconomic class, and age – and I totally agree.

Enter the Student Organizers.

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The MAPA student organizer gang!

While many of the sessions were both interesting and useful (“How Can the National Organization Support the Affiliates” and “Strategies in Fundraising” to name a few) one thing was obvious: Everyone was teeming with excitement over the young student organizers that would be leading a “Student Organizing” panel on the last day of the meeting. The moment I was asked to serve as a panelist, I knew that this was my chance to inspire the other Peace Action leaders across the nation to help foster the next generation of peace activists.

Together, the panel’s main assertion was that if Peace Action is going to not only survive but thrive, then it needs to invest in young people. It should be the top priority of every affiliate group to help empower young people with similar ideals and provide them with the resources to take an active lead in their society. Only then can we continue the work that the older generation of peace activists has been doing and usher in a new future for the peace movement.

Yet even with this truth of truths, only 2 states, New York and Massachusetts, seem to be taking youth involvement to seriously. After day 1 of the meeting, I had a truly inspiring conversation with my new friend Jim Anderson, President of Peace Action New York State. He is former Vietnam gunner who later dedicated his life to civil rights and peace activism. The following is a non-verbatim excerpt from that conversation that I managed to jot down.

“…Young leaders give us new hope for the future because without you guys, there is no future. Don’t be afraid to think big, act big. We need young people, but the folks here hesitate to bring them to the table. But you need to have full access, front row seats. You’re the people we need to send behind enemy lines (i.e. of the political and social battleground known as Capitol Hill). I hope that someday when I come lobbying to DC that it’s your office I’m visiting. Always remember that you’ve got a family and an army to back you up…” -Jim Anderson

Clearly Jim and the folks at New York State Peace Action, which brought over 22 students representing 9 colleges and have a full-time youth coordinator position, get it. And so does Massachusetts Peace Action.

But I have to say, by far one of the most rewarding and productive aspects of the whole trip was talking to the New York student organizers. From their accomplishments and stable functionality, to their strong presence on their campuses and communities – everything about them was inspiring. During our discussion, we covered a wide array of topics like how to gain visibility, building functional E-boards, campaigning on campuses, etc.. It was the opportune time to exchange advice and ideas. Some of my favorite event ideas from the New Yorkers included starting a radio talk-show, writing and performing a drone warfare play, hosting an oppressed identity fishbowl (group activity that shows common struggles between oppressed people), having a “free food and call your representative” party, and renting an actual fence to put on campus to serve as a mock border and to demonstrate the need for immigration reform. Needless to say, the Peace Action groups from Manhattan College, University of Albany, Hamilton College, SUNY New Paltz and others really have it together. I am so grateful to have these new alliances and mentors as our campus groups in Massachusetts establish ourselves.

Besides getting the meet and exchange with the New Yorkers, I also cherished the opportunity to grow closer to the other MA student organizers, whom I had only vaguely known up until that point. Meeting people from other states was cool, but nothing could be more valuable than strengthening ties with your own neighbors and building a united coalition amongst ourselves. From our adventure exploring the Capitol and getting a selfie with Elizabeth Warren on our lobbying day to spending endless hours stuck in a car together, we made so many memories and cultivated friendships that I feel will be key in the development of our Peace Action campus groups in the coming years. It is so inspiring and empowering to know that I have friends I can count on for support who also understand challenges I face as a peace activist. Whether it’s strategizing with Remy Pontes of Brandies University for nuclear divestment campaigns on our campuses, coordinating future anti-Islamophobia events with Jennifer Horsburgh and Kimia Tabatabaei of Newton North and Newton South, or attending the rad events organized by Micaela Fraccalossi of Emmanuel, the future looks bright for the student chapters of Peace Action.

So basically, if I learned anything from the 2 days in DC attending the Peace Action National Organizers meeting, it’s that a prosperous, powerful peace movement demands empowering young people so that they can be change-makers and take an active role in leading the world forward.

Both kudos and many thanks to the wonderful folks at Massachusetts and New York Peace Action for recognizing this truth and making sincere efforts to help us thrive.

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Ashton of TPA excited for the meeting with the NY student organizers
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Kimia and I preaching it during our panel

Peace,

Haleigh C.

Tufts University

 

One Student’s Thoughts on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Newton South Peace Action President and MAPA Student Organizer Kimia Tabatabaei delivered the following speech at the co-sponsored “Windows Into Syria” Event. Another passionate young peace activist speaks out against US treatment of Syria!

Check out more updates at the Massachusetts Peace Action Website!

Personally, when I think of the refugee crisis it’s incredibly simple. Yes, the politics behind the crisis in Syria are complicated, but the question of whether or not the US and other countries should accept refugees is easy to answer. Of course we should! It comes down to this: these refugees are human beings, just like us, they are children who want to watch cartoon shows, just like us, they are students who want to become somebody special when they grow up, just like us, they are mothers, fathers, and grandparents and they deserve the right to live a peaceful life.

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I believe that it’s in our human nature to care for others and to yearn for the feeling of being cared for. Simple. But how can we expect to make the world a more humane place if some of us no longer feel compassionate towards certain groups of people based on the color of their skin, the language that they speak, the holy book that they pray from or the place that they call home? And furthermore, how can we expect human beings who feel that they are superior to get rid of their prejudices and deadly stereotypes if the news that is being broadcasted on a daily basis is only fueling fear, anger, and hatred portraying refugees as terrorists? If a Syrian refugee is no longer seen as a respected member of our world but as a demonized object who somewhere along the way was stripped of the basic right to at least try and have a normal life. If we are living in a world in which governments feel that they can bomb their problems away, forgetting that when they say they are going to bomb a country with the intent of killing terrorists, that also means sacrificing the lives of millions and millions of civilians as collateral damage.

This week I randomly asked 35 students from various grades and different genders at Newton South if they think that the US should accept Syrian refugees. The answer was overwhelmingly, yes, with only 8 people saying that they don’t think the US should be involved. Some were concerned that these refugees would take away jobs and ruin the economy. So I told them that numerous studies have proven that immigrants increase the labor force and consumer demand and bring new skills with them allowing them to start new businesses. A paper published in 2014 by four economists also found that immigration benefited local populations in 19 of the 20 industrialized countries they studied. Others were worried that these syrians “could be ISIS” as Donald Trump put it! So I reminded them that the US State Department issues visas to tens of thousands of immigrants each year and they don’t go through even half as much screening as a refugee does. It takes at least four years for refugees to be approved to enter the US and another two years of screening when they are here. So far 50 percent of those who have entered are children and 25 percent are above the age of 65. So no, the five year old child who is entering the country with his family is not a terrorist. Another person said that these refugees have a choice and so they shouldn’t choose to come to America. I tried to keep my calm as I told this person that it’s not as if they’re given a menu covered with hearts and smiley faces and can fill in a bubble next to the country that appeals to them most. It doesn’t work like that, if they really had a choice they would choose to continue living in their home but that’s too dangerous.

I started Newton South Peace Action in order to start a conversation and open people’s eyes. To at least try and show them that there are many, many people in our world who are suffering and to show them that, yes, the world is a big, scary place, but shutting out reality and only thinking about our small, sheltered Newton bubble means that we are inevitably moving in a backwards direction as we continuously miss opportunities to help people in need. My club is devoted to raising awareness on issues of injustice, educating others, giving young people who often feel powerless a voice, and taking active steps that will lead us in a forward moving and more accepting direction.

Today, thanks to our great speakers, we heard about numerous ways to get involved and help refugees. Some of those include creating a petition or signing on to one that already exists. Making donations to trust worthy organizations that are fully devoted to the cause. Organizing events, similar to this one, to raise awareness.  Calling your senators or congressmen and directly reaching out to news organizations. This can be done by writing articles, and making media visits as a group in order to get your voice out into the public and to bring a new less islamophobic perspective out into the media. Reminding people that the Syrian refugees are no different from me or you. They were just unlucky to live in a country that is now torn by violence, chaos, and devastation. All any of us wish for is a normal life, meaning that we have health, happiness and safety and for them a normal life is one that is free of violence, free of chaos, free of devastation, and free of war. All they wish for is to feel that they are cared for, and that is something that we can help with by following the action steps that our speakers suggested and joining MAPA’s ongoing efforts.

Kicking off Summer of 2016

As last week’s summer solstice reminds us, the 2015-2016 school year has ended and summer has arrived. I wanted to take a moment to outline the past semester’s accomplishments. The close of the spring semester means congratulating our seven impressive student organizers on their work throughout the school year. Each has led a group in event planning, outreach, and activism, and have targeted issues ranging from nuclear abolition to the Syrian War. The semester culminated with five students journeying to Washington DC for the Peace Action National Organizers meeting.

Having students involved at the national level affirms their importance to the peace movement. As we build student chapters, we need to value their involvement and privilege integration whenever possible; otherwise, we risk keeping them on the sidelines at a moment when every voice counts.

While in DC, the students’ time was split between lobbying Congress, getting to know fellow student leaders, and engaging with chapter affiliates about the future of Peace Action. During the planning sessions, Kimi Tabatabai (NSPA) and Haleigh Copley (TPA) participated on a panel event where they, and two representatives from New York Peace Action, described their roles as Student Organizers. Affiliates from other states expressed interest in their work, their involvement with Peace Action, and best practices for starting student chapters. Haleigh mentioned that the different panel presentations were a highlight of her conference experience.

During lobby visits, students dialogued with Representative Jim McGovern, Senator Ed Markey, Representative Joe Kennedy, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the latter of which was a favorite meeting for our Brandeis Student Organizer, Remy Pontes.The student reactions to the trip were overwhelming positive and have us looking towards ways we can improve and build upon this experience next year.

The DC trip was a perfect way to wrap up another semester of organizing and advocating. Our two Senior organizers deserve a special shout out, having both finished their terms as chapter president. Harvard senior, Abel Corver, has been leading Harvard Peace Action (HPA) for two years and has made significant strides in nuclear disarmament work through divestment strategies at Harvard and with the City of Cambridge. HPA also sponsored regular speaker events including one with Ted Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at MIT. Harry Cahoone, our Holy Cross student Organizer, led his chapter through cultural discussions and critiques, and closed the year with a highly attended speaker event featuring Representative Jim McGovern. We are currently looking for a new Holy Cross Peace Action leader, so please send any interested individuals in our direction! We do not want Harry’s hard work to lose momentum.

Our other three college chapters will all see the return of their lead Student Organizers: Remy Pontes at Brandeis; Haleigh Copley at Tufts; and Micaela Fraccalossi at Emmanuel. Brandeis Peace Action (BPA), as the newest chapter, looks forward to beginning activist and educational events next semester; they have already shown a significant interest in nuclear disarmament and look forward to exploring other issues. Emmanuel Peace Action (EPA) achieved official recognition early in the spring semester and has gained steady momentum ever since with events including  a fundraising campaign for NuDay Syria and a panel on Islamophobia. Last, but certainly not least of our college chapters, Tufts Peace Action is not only fully prepared for recognition in the fall, but has hosted an Open Mic Night raising funds for women’s uplift, co-sponsored an art night with Tufts’ Arts and Amnesty project, and organized a speaker event featuring MIT Prof. Max Tegmark. Haleigh Copley, TPA president and current Student Organizer, is supported in her efforts by Ashton Stephens, who has provided invaluable help organizing events and preparing for recognition.

Our two high school chapters, Newton North and Newton South Peace Action, led by Jennifer Horsburgh and Kimia Tabatabaei, both achieved official recognition early in the spring. The two groups teamed up with MAPA’s Middle East working group to host “Windows into Syria”, a speaker event focused on the Syrian war and refugee crisis.

It has been a busy semester and while our organizers certainly deserve a break, many our continuing with their involvement in critical peace issues, attending MAPA events, and volunteering/interning at the office. Keep an eye out for a summer article from Haleigh, who will be at Hiroshima on the anniversary of the nuclear bombings.

Here’s to kicking off another summer of supporting our Student Organizers and their work for peace!