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Next semester, Students for Social Justice (SSJ) will hold Lafayette’s first Peace Conference, bringing in speakers to discuss peace studies and conflict resolution.

“As our world becomes more globalized, students should have the opportunity to learn about how peace can be sustained and what sort of conflict resolution techniques they can apply on a macro and micro level,” says international affairs major Maly Fung ’07 (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.), an organizer for the conference, which had been planned for this Saturday until scheduling conflicts forced postponement.

SSJ is planning the conference to continue the work of Raisa Sheynberg ’04, who started the campaign to establish a peace and conflict resolution academic program at Lafayette last year.

“We feel that now is a great time for Lafayette to start a peace studies program here, with the many new and exciting changes that are already taking place on campus,” say Fung and Danielle Pollaci ’06 (Trenton, N.J.), a double major in English and international affairs, in a joint statement. “Currently, as a result of last year’s efforts, Lafayette is offering a class on human rights taught by Professor (Joshua) Sanborn. This is certainly the direction we’re heading toward, but we want to push for a complete academic program.”

In the past several weeks, SSJ hosted several campus talks on peace issues.

Maria Weick addressed the question “Is the Death Penalty Just?” April 19, and the following day, a discussion was held on youth militarism, including registering for the draft, conscientious objection, and peacemaker programs.

Erika Sutherland, associate professor of Spanish at Muhlenberg College, gave a talk April 6 entitled “On Melting Pots, Salads, and America’s Tables: Immigration Today,” an examination of immigration policies and their effect on the Latino population within and outside the United States.

“SSJ has wanted to talk about important issues that have not received attention from the media, such as current immigration policies,” says Pollaci. “We thought that Professor Sutherland had the expertise with the topic and the Lehigh Valley Hispanic community, making her ideal for addressing the subject.”

Bill Weinberg, a writer for the underground newspaper The Shadow and the author of Homage to Chiapas, lectured April 4 on “Latin America: The Forgotten Front in the War on Terrorism,” a discussion of narcoterrorism, particularly in Colombia.

Last November, SSJ sponsored “Hidden in Plain Sight: Atrocities in Our Own Backyard,” a video screening and discussion about what the group alleges are inhumane combat strategies taught to Latin American soldiers by the School of the Americas, followed by a discussion of U.S. involvement in Latin America and Iraq led by guest speaker Linda Panetta. The group also cosponsored the recent United Against Hate Week.

Categorized in: Academic News