The danger of annihilation and destruction by nuclear weapons were discussed in Newton Hall on Wednesday, April 16, as peace activist Cheryl Wertz presented a lecture focused on promoting a new U.S. foreign policy, abolishing nuclear weapons and building a human-rights culture.
"How can I make people understand the horror of nuclear weapons?" Wertz asked. "The number of people affected is inconceivable. We have no everyday framework for understanding."
Citing the enormous number of people who died during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks during World War II, Wertz, the executive director of Peace Action New York State, explained that although no nuclear attacks have occurred since then, "nuclear war and winter are still, if not more, relevant today."
According to her information, there are about 23,000 nuclear weapons in existence today. Russia and the U.S. control over half of them. "At any given time the president could launch 6,000 nuclear weapons in 15 minutes," she said.
Wertz suggested several possibilities for inspiring more student involvement and overcoming student apathy. She suggested that students participate in peace groups on campus including infoSHARE and Students for a Peaceful Solution in Iraq.
"By positive action we enforce positive change," she said. "Student activism is a large part of learning skills for political activism later in life.
Students generally seemed unimpressed by the lecture.
"She just threw statistics at us without explaining their significance," said freshman Alex Berberich.
"It was a waste of time" said junior Max Duhe. "The lecture pandered to the people who already believe her. She didn't say anything earth shattering and the tenor was anti-American and anti-Congress: taking jabs at U.S foreign policy."
Peace Action New York State - the goal of which is to halt the global spread of nuclear weapons - is part of the national Peace Action campaign, the largest grassroots peace organization in the country.
As part of the continued nuclear disarmament information campaign at Geneseo, the Kinetic Gallery in the Union Ballroom is hosting the exhibit "Transforming the Human Spirit" from April 14 to April 20.