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 has its roots with 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. During the 80’s anti nuclear movement it started up again, but as the Berlin wall fell and the movement lost momentum and the Center again closed its doors. In the early oughts 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, though since its rebirth the Center has provided WMU students with opportunities to take lead 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 an egalitarian society. Every member decides their level of participation and thus qualifies their own amount of say in operation. Historically the board of directors has had the authority to hire the director. The director then oversees day-to-day operations of the organization. The director 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 their attitudes can influence this. While this has past been the structure, there is currently discussion of changing the official method to fit the actual practice which has involved the existing collectives say in new hiring and direction of programming.
Our Elevator Speech
The Peace Center is the hub for progressive activities at WMU. We are a student group incubator and community center. We organize lectures, film screenings, concerts, open forums and other events that bring together diverse ideas and provide a space for discourse and political development. We’re located in the center of campus, and we are part student group, part non-profit and fully effective.
The Peace Center collective fits the stereotype of the college left. We’re left of democrats and well educated on a variety of issues. The organization is personal and fast paced. Everyone is on a first name basis and begins their relationship on overlapping goals. Friendship is emphasized over professionalism. Members are up to date on trends and follow national issues. People tend to be more oriented towards cultural over policy change. Actions are based locally but we keep in mind the national and international repercussions.
The primary leadership style is “Dreamer” and focused on the big picture. Our volunteers like to be involved in multiple projects and embrace their A.D.D.
Our collective is self-motivated by their desires to change societal conditions. The occasional pep talk and strategy session is welcomed but generally participants don’t require such reminders to stay motivated and active.