Change is going around, and there’s one club on campus that’s keeping tabs on it all.
While it isn’t an official student organization yet, the Peacemakers group is already in motion with discussions of non-violence and plans for activism at Texas Wesleyan and beyond.
“Non-violence is a way of life,” said Tom Unzicker, the organization’s coordinator. “People are looking for change in our society and how do you go about doing that? [We] stress the idea that change has happened one way or another in our country throughout time. People are still alive in our country that worked with the civil rights movement—sometimes they were harassed, abused, arrested, some even witnessed people being killed—but those people made it true that change was possible through nonviolence.”
Unzincker said the Peacemakers club is a part of a larger project by the Satyagraha (Sah-chee-grah-ha) Institute called the “Peace Persuaders” project. The Institute, based in South Dakota, “promotes the uplift of all beings by cultivating leadership in the pursuit of truth and nonviolence,” according to satyagrahainstitute.org.
The goal of the project is to create a network of student organizations across the nation that will bring about and foster change for the United States.
The Peacemakers at Texas Wesleyan is the first organization of the Peace Persuaders operation. Unzicker, who’s been studying and partaking in non-violence for several decades now, was able to get things started on campus with the help Vice President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students Dennis Hall, whom he met in 2001 while working at the University of Oregon.
“There was some connections there,” Unzicker said. “I was thinking about getting this going for a long time. [Our first organization is at Texas Wesleyan, and it’s] not only been really convenient, but it’s been really rewarding.”
The Peacemaker group first met on Feb. 25, and has been meeting roughly every week ever since.
In the process of becoming official, the Peacemakers is currently drafting a constitution and looking for a faculty advisor. Unzicker will not be on campus, or in Texas for that matter, in the foreseeable future. Somamarith “Rit” Tran, who is pursuing a graduate degree at Wesleyan for marriage and family therapy, is the group’s second-in-command. Tran will take over things while Unzicker keeps in touch long distance. Tran is hoping to get the group up and running during the fall semester.
“Well, I was kinda thrown in the position with Tom,” Tran said. “I didn’t really have any idea what direction to take. I have a background in esoteric students—ancient wisdom from Egypt and Tibet—all that. So, I’ve been putting some of that wisdom in the constitution for the Peacemaker group.”
Two big things Tran is aiming to accomplish as the Peacemakers develops are getting more members and appointing more officers.
“This is the first group of the Peace Persuaders,” he said. “Right now, [the group’s] still in the inception—it’s a baby project. Hopefully, before I leave, it’ll be a well-organized group that can be continued on and passed on to different campuses. More than likely, I’ll stay in ‘til it’s stabilized. I have two years here till I graduate with my degree. And then I’m sure I’ll be advising off and on.”
Besides Unzicker and Tran, Peacemakers meetings had one to three students attend each week through the semester. History major Christopher Campbell and political science major Nicholas Davis both came into the group just two weeks ago.
A freshman, Davis is treasurer of the Student Government Association as well as the president of the Young Conservatives of Texas branch at Wesleyan. Davis believes Peacemakers has great potential.
“It’s a great organization and I see it doing amazing things on campus,” Davis said. “I think the organization provides life skills that go far beyond [college].”
Campbell, a sophomore, originally joined to just be in an organization on campus, but he’s since invested more of himself into the movement.
“I honestly [just wanted] to be more involved,” Campbell said. “It’s just cool to be with this group, especially with what it’s about. [The current plans include learning] how to deal with problems peacefully and [going] out and [helping] with community events, service projects, and [just doing good in general]. Rick told me he wanted to get it to where each member grows with the organization, and I can get behind that.”
The next Peacemakers meeting will be 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Carter Conference Room of the Brown-Lupton Campus Center.