||CentrePeace celebrates its 10th year on campus
RELEASED: October 22, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—Ten years ago, a group of Centre College students founded an organization dedicated to educating the Centre community on issues related to war, violence and injustice around the world.
The founders of the group were inspired by Dr. Rick Axtell's course on Religion and Violence. They named the group CentrePeace, and today, the enterprise is as active as ever.
"Over the years, the group has been quite visible," Axtell says. "They've taken almost annual trips to a vigil at Fort Benning, Ga., which commemorates the deaths of thousands of Central American citizens, priests and nuns at the hands of the graduates of the School of the Americas, which has trained counterinsurgency forces in Latin America."
Ricky Ackerman '10, who has been a member of CentrePeace since his freshman year, says that attending this vigil during his first year at Centre stands out in his memory.
"Around 20,000 people attended the vigil for victims that year, and to be part of something that big, something that so many individuals care about so deeply, was quite an amazing experience," he says. "People have been assembling annually outside the gates of the school for the vigil for more than a decade. I was awed and inspired by it. I look forward to returning to Fort Benning this year to again take part in the vigil."
The members of CentrePeace are also looking forward to events that will be held this year on Centre's campus.
This year, as in years past, the group will invite numerous speakers to Centre to help meet their goal of educating others about injustice and violence.
In the past, invitees have discussed issues such as the wars in Afghanistan, Colombia, Congo, Iraq and Lebanon; and the conditions in Burma, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua and Palestine.
The organization has also simulated a sweatshop outside of Cowan Dining Commons, where they presented facts about sweatshop conditions to the Centre community.
Other activities include conducting vigils lamenting deaths in the Iraq war; studying domestic violence; advocating against capital punishment; and conducting letter-writing campaigns on Darfur, fair trade, foreign aid reform and oppression of women under the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"This term, we're focusing on several issues," says Erica Horton '10, a member of the organization's executive committee. "At our last meeting, we talked about issues surrounding global poverty, hunger and U.S. foreign aid. Our members wrote letters to Congress urging their representatives to support current legislation that will reform foreign aid."
Throughout the fall term, the group will also be working with Amnesty International's campaign on Torture and the War on Terror.
No matter which of their many events they are focusing on, the group is proud of its presence on campus.
"The most rewarding thing about the group is the feeling that we're contributing to making a difference in our society, both globally and locally," Horton says.
"By getting others involved and by providing avenues for members to address issues of social change," she adds, "we're fostering a sense of justice on campus and hoping to inspire students to become leaders in addressing some of the biggest problems that face our world today."
Ackerman agrees. "For me, Centre Peace is an organization about giving back to mankind. So many people in the world live in conditions and suffer agonies that are unacceptable. As fellow members of humanity, we owe it to those people to do what we can to lift them up to a higher level that allows them to live lives of dignity."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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