Peace Action Geneseo flattens misconception, animosity

Recently, nonviolent organizations throughout the nation are becoming vocal about their plea for peaceful resolutions in politics. This is all in the hopes of reaching out to a nation of people whom the President of Geneseo’s Peace Action Coalition junior Patrick McCormick said are “weary of war.” As the first student-led chapter of Peace Action New York State, Peace Action Geneseo has set a precedent for other colleges in the area. Even so, it is still a relatively new group to campus, as it was officially sanctioned as a student organization in fall 2011.

PA Geneseo follows the long-established tradition of nonviolent petitioning in the area, as it frequently collaborates with the local Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace organization in its efforts to encourage peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.

“We’re not naïve, and we try not to be too lofty in our goals about peace,” McCormick said. “But we are working towards a change in some national priorities by addressing anything from military spending to nuclear weapon policy to nonviolent alternatives to war toys.”

Although PA Geneseo is dedicated to promoting demilitarization and peaceful conflict resolution through student activism, the group first aims to spread awareness regarding current United States legislation and foreign policy pertaining to the U.S. government’s nuclear and military programs.

“We think a really important role for us is to be educating college students,” McCormick said. This includes “those who are, maybe for the first time, really starting to read the news and interpret world events without their parents or other people spoon-feeding it to them.”

In the fall 2013 semester, PA Geneseo held a successful benefit dinner to culminate a semester of fundraising efforts for Syrian refugees, and the organization’s efforts helped raise $600 toward aiding Syrian victims through Doctors Without Borders.

This semester, the organization aims to have its attention concentrated on the disputes currently surrounding Iran, including the issues around the six-month suspension of sanctions that are harming Iran’s economy and, most importantly, its people.

“There’s a tendency for a knee-jerk reaction to hate Iran and anything about them,” McCormick said. “But our campaign this semester is to ask the government to continue to leave the sanctions off the table as they enter into these negations with Iran over their nuclear program.”

This semester, PA Geneseo has once again decided take a more humanitarian approach to its mission and is proposing a potential campaign to send messages and pictures of members to participating Iranians.

The organization hopes to start an ongoing relationship of picture circulation, as a way to humanize the nation and people of Iran – a project McCormick said comes out of the vein of an Iranian-Palestinian endeavor originally created by photographers of those nations.

“We encourage people to engage in healthy dialogue about these issues; we want people to form their own opinions,” McCormick said. “As [a club], we’re coming into our own, but we’re striving to do a little more than a just wave a flag around.”