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The Peace Center works to educate and empower students by providing the tools, knowledge and space necessary for mobilizing around issues of justice and peace and creating effective and positive changes in our community and on our campus. By acting in solidarity on a local level, we hope to contribute to the achievement of social, environmental and economical justice worldwide.
History of Peace Center
The Peace Center’s roots are in the Swords into Plowshares movement of the 50’s. There was a United Methodist pastor that went to Wesley Foundations around the state starting up peace centers on university campuses. With the decline of the movement, the WMU Peace Center shut down. The Peace Center opened once more during the 80’s anti nuclear movement, but as the Berlin wall fell and the movement lost momentum, the Center again closed its doors. In the early 2000s a group of students came together and presented the Wesley Foundation with a new plan to jump start the Peace Center. Leadership, structure and activities have changed over the past decade, and since its rebirth, the Center has provided WMU students with opportunities to take leading roles in social change.
The Peace Center strives to be as horizontal in its decision making process as possible. While we are not an egalitarian organization in structure, we are working towards the creation of a horizontal structure. Every member decides their level of participation and thus qualifies their own amount say in any decision we make as a group. Historically, the hiring board accepts applicants for co-directors for a 2-year term. The director, or co-directors, handle the day-to-day communications and maintenance of work in the group. The (co)director(s) then makes the call on which work-study students to hire. The board, director, nor the work-study students, have any official power to determine who is part of the collective voluntarily, but like any organization, pre-existing members will make the effort to make our existing collective as accessible to newcomers as possible, updating them on whatever ongoing projects at the time.
Our Elevator Speech
The Peace Center is a hub for community and student organizing at WMU. We area community center, office, temporary storage space, and we are continuing to explore the ways our space can be expanded to fit the needs of our community. We organize lectures, film screenings, concerts, open forums and other events that bring together ideas and provide a space for discourse, as well as political and personal development.
The Peace Center Collective constitutes of two co-directors and interns and/or collective members serve as key components to the group. The organization is personal and paced to the schedules, abilities and desires of those who join. Everyone is on a first name basis and begins their relationship with intersecting goals and interests — whether it be voter registration, direct action training or the topics of a favorite speaker. While we recognize the goal professionalism has in communication in non-profits, friendships and the connection over our passions is more important. Members have a wide variety of interests in topics that are both popular and trending or historical. We also consider both cultural and policy changes in our communities. Actions are based locally but we have ventured outside of Kalamazoo to gain experience in national protests, such as the School of Americas Watch. Our volunteers like to be involved in multiple projects and embrace their full capabilities, and is self-motivated by their desires to change societal conditions.