News, April 2016

38Oread Meeting Quakers protest gun law in Kansas

Four members of Oread Meeting in Lawrence, Kans., participated in a February 5 protest event organized on the campus of the University of Kansas by students and faculty belonging to the Kansas Coalition for a Gun Free Campus. Kansas law will allow for the concealed carry of handguns on all public university and college campuses beginning July 1, 2017, making it the eighth state to do so.

All four of the Oread Meeting participants are either retired or present-day English professors, who endorse the statement made by an attending student who proclaimed: “Read! Speak! Write! Reading, speaking, writing is more powerful than guns.”

Oread Meeting clerk and professor emerita Elizabeth Schultz wore a strip of cloth across her mouth with “NRA” printed on it, and wrote of the experience stating: “This pro-gun legislation, supported by the National Rifle Association, inhibits my freedom of expression. All of us, I believe, were there, convinced of the validity of the Quaker peace testimony and seeking a repeal of the present Kansas law.”

 

Quaker Youth Leadership Conference welcomes international presence

The annual conference for students and faculty from Quaker schools gathered in Providence, R.I., on February 4–6. The conference was attended by 165 students and 40 faculty from 19 schools. Students and staff from Sibford Friends School in Banbury, England, and Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, brought an international presence to the gathering hosted by Lincoln School and Moses Brown School.

The theme was “(in)Equality: Past, Present, and Future,” featuring workshops offered by students and guest speakers. Lincoln and Moses Brown schools offered to host this year at the request of students who had attended the conference in previous years.

Goals for future years include for the students to take full ownership of organizing the conference and for them to learn about difficult subjects and meet others that are passionate about those subjects. Next year the conference will be held in Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

Earlham cancels classes and holds community forum on diversity

On February 4, Earlham College canceled classes to spend the day talking about diversity and specifically the experiences of students of color on the campus. This was in response to a protest held three days before where 60 students walked out of classes to deliver a list of requirements to the President’s office and several other administrative offices across the campus. That action was organized by a group known as EC Students Against Racism.

The day of discussions started with three forums, one for each of the communities of staff, faculty, and students. The student forum was attended by more than 250 students and was run by members of the student government. Afterward, there was one all-community forum attended by nearly 600 students, staff, faculty, and community members.

A main topic of discussion was the list of requirements. Students and faculty mentioned some of the ways that they have been made to feel unsafe and unwelcome on campus.

“The Earlham community chose to dedicate a community-wide discussion to explore how it is ‘living out’ one of its guiding principles, ‘respect for all persons,’” said college president David Dawson of the day.

The list of requirements includes an increase in the number of people of color in positions like campus safety and the race and gender studies departments to 30 percent; diversity training for all students, staff, and faculty; a multicultural center; and a formal and safe way for students to make complaints about racial problems on campus.

Since that day of discussions, some developments have already been made. The Diversity Progress Committee, which is now comprised of students, teaching faculty, and administrative faculty, has begun carefully considering four recommendations made by President Dawson. The committee is currently meeting weekly to work on what will be the initial response to the list of requirements.

 

Quakers in Britain host century celebration of conscientious objectors

A series of events called “Conscientious objection: 100 years on” took place on January 27 and 28 in London and Scotland. The events were organized by Quakers in Britain in celebration of the first conscientious objectors that England saw during World War I, and the effect these COs had on the generations that followed. The events featured several speakers and artifacts, and brought together not only Quakers but also historians, descendants of conscientious objectors, and members of the Parliaments of England and Scotland.

In collaboration with those events, Quakers in Britain launched an informational website called “The #Whitefeather Diaries. The website (whitefeatherdiaries.org) presents the real stories of five young conscientious objectors and provides a wealth of resources for those who want to learn more.

 

AFSC nominates Nonviolent Peaceforce for the Nobel Peace Prize

This year American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has nominated the Minnesota- and Belgium-based organization Nonviolent Peaceforce for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nonviolent Peaceforce forms unarmed, paid civilian teams and sends them into areas of conflict to foster dialogue among parties in conflict and to provide a protective presence for threatened civilians. As a laureate of the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize, AFSC has the privilege to nominate possible recipients of the prize. AFSC submitted its letter of nomination to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in late January. Decisions will be made in September or October.

Co-founder Mel Duncan and CEO Doris Mariani of Nonviolent Peaceforce responded, “We are honored to be nominated. We are especially honored to have this nomination come from the American Friends Services Committee. This is a tribute to our courageous civilian peacekeepers who are at the frontline of violent conflicts around the world.”

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