This article appeared in the 2016 Fall Newsletter
The upcoming presidential election, regardless of the results, will usher in a new era for the grassroots peace movement, an era that will need the strength of student voices and student will. Bernie Sanders’ plea for a new kind of politics created ripples across the country, ripples that resulted in waves of momentum on college campuses. This momentum serves as a reminder of the important roles that students play in each political discussion and decision, starting at their campus and circulating up to Capitol Hill.
MAPA student organizers have shared in this grassroots momentum, launching and maintaining campus chapters that focus on the issues central to our peace movement. From championing nuclear disarmament to shining a spotlight on the US’s role in the Syrian war, our students are illuminating, debating, and critiquing national actions and stated intentions.
Fall 2016 marks the second year of our new approach to student organizing – a milestone marked by our growth from one fledgling student chapter to nine chapters at various stages of development. While the descriptions below outline a brief summary of each group and its current status, they cannot do justice to the effort and passion put forth by each of our student chapter presidents, efforts that ensure that these chapters will play a role in building the peace movement over the next four years.
Our first chapter, Harvard Peace Action, saw a change in leadership this spring with the departure of long-time president and chapter founder, Abel Corver. Salmon Habib has taken over as a chapter president alongside Thomas Elliot, and has joined MAPA’s board. Harvard Peace Action, officially recognized last spring, promoted its chapter at the student fair and then moved quickly into exciting events centered on nuclear abolition, including an event, co-sponsored with the Harvard Kennedy School.
Emmanuel Peace Action, which received official recognition last spring, is led by Micaela Fraccolossi (left). Micaela organized a talk by Phyllis Bennis at Emmanuel during her book tour of Boston and describes her group as “a place where people can state their opinions in an understanding environment.”
President Haleigh Copley continues to lead the Peace Action Chapter at Tufts University (PACT) (above) with enthusiasm, hosting regular meetings and working with MAPA to bring Phyllis Bennis to her campus. Haleigh worked through the summer to advance her chapter, holding chapter board meetings while studying abroad in China and while attending the 2016 World Conference against A & H Bombs in Hiroshima, Japan.
Brandeis Peace Action achieved official recognition in the beginning of October. Chapter president Remy Pontes, worked alongside his chapter to acquire over 100 supporting signatures and obtain all required documentation. The chapter recently held a launch party at the Brandeis coffee house, hoping to increase its members and solidify its focus.
Three new college student chapters have joined our ranks this fall: Boston College, led by MAPA summer intern Matthew Hahm; Salem State, led by Ben Militello and Amanda Mark; and Suffolk University, led by Luca Cepollina. Boston College has already hosted its first interest meeting, while both Suffolk and Salem State are in the midst of planning and advertising.
Our two recognized high school chapters, Newton North and Newton South, have been busy refocusing their efforts. Club presidents Kimia Tabatabaei and Jennifer Horsburgh attended the “Technologies of Peace” US-Japan high-school student summit in September and are considering how best to focus on issues such as peace and climate and US policy toward the Middle East.