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.
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.