PeaceJam Scholars combats violence

By Thomas Verschelde

A student organization known as PeaceJam Scholars is pledging that, in the face of new violence, the campus must be proactive about peace, said David Shernoff, faculty representative for PeaceJam Scholars.

PeaceJam Scholars is a student-run group dedicated to getting area youth involved in changing the world for the better, said Noell Cook, public relations intern at Great Lakes PeaceJam.

“PeaceJam Scholars provides college students with opportunities to develop their leadership and community organizing skills as well as a chance to make a difference in the world through direct action,” Cook said. “The goal of a scholars club is to activate your campus to be part of a movement of young people who are committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration and direction of 12 Nobel Peace Laureates.”

Brett Anderson is the interim president of PeaceJam Scholars at NIU.

“The primary way the foundation fulfills this mission is by supporting local PeaceJam organizations in which members explore the lives and causes of past Nobel Peace laureates as well as become a part of these causes by planning and launching service projects that align with them,” Anderson said. “Members are also afforded the honor of actually meeting Nobel Peace laureates at annual regional conferences.”

Every year, PeaceJam has a regional conference in Chicago during which a Nobel Peace Prize laureate speaks, said Shernoff, associate professor in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Foundations. This year, the group will speak with Rigoberta Menchu Tum, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her social justice work in Guatemala.

Another aim of PeaceJam Scholars is getting involved in the local community to make a difference, Anderson said.

“NIU PeaceJam Scholars directly and immediately benefits the NIU and larger DeKalb communities through its work in community service projects,” Anderson said. “We are planning on designing a project that centers around the recent spike in violence in the DeKalb community or DeKalb’s version of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

Shernoff said the group is always looking for new members and will elect leadership positions Friday.

“There is a very social component to the organization,” Shernoff said. “Those who join often develop a sense of unity to their fellow members and the community through the various service projects we take part in.”