College Green peace rally boasts strong turnout

In a candlelight vigil on Friday, Sept. 21, students gathered on the College Green to commemorate the International Day of Peace.

The evening vigil was organized by Students for a Peaceable Solution in Iraq, a new student group that is not formally recognized by the college.

The vigil opened with the reading of a statement from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which stated, "Peace is the United Nations' highest calling. It defines our mission. It drives our discourse. And it draws together all of our worldwide work, from peacekeeping and preventive diplomacy to promoting human rights and development."

The vigil included a moment of silence as well as an open forum for students and others to share their thoughts and concerns regarding peace, safety, and warfare occurring across the globe. Following the gathering on the Green, students were given the option to participate in a silent walk through campus.

According to John Whelehan, a member of SPSI in Iraq and one of the coordinators of the vigil, the evening was a much bigger success than anticipated. "We had a really great turnout," he said. "We only bought 50 candles for the event, but we wound up having about 100 people attend. For Geneseo, on a Friday night, it was really surprising. We'll definitely be doing this next year."

Geneseo was joined by more than 200 countries worldwide in commemorating the International Day of Peace, which was designated for a 24-hour ceasefire by a resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1981. In 2001, Sept. 21 was officially declared the International Day of Peace. This year's commemoration also featured a universal moment of silence at noon, as declared by Ki-moon.

"The fact that so many people felt strong enough about finding a way to achieve peace says a lot about this campus," said Colin Waters, a member of SPSI and one of the organizers of the event. "It seems like everyone there took away something different from the vigil, whether it was an internal reflection or an external observation."

SPSI member Isobel Connors agreed. "People's sharings were very heartfelt and I could see a strong connection among everyone in the circle," she said. "Hopefully, next year, we will do a similar vigil. We just hope that people will feel inspired to take action to stop world violence. Don't let the vigil be you're only support of peace - go out and do something!"