EMU to dedicate momument to peace Oct. 21
YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University will dedicate an unusual monument Oct. 21, designed to promote peace both at the University and the surrounding communities.
The monument, an 8-foot peace pole decorated with the message, "May Peace Prevail on Earth," in 16 languages, will be dedicated Saturday, Oct. 21, 11:30 a.m., beginning with a celebration in EMU’s Sponberg Theatre. A parade, including a procession of 250 flags, will move the celebration to the intersection of College Place and Cross Street for the dedication. The pole arrived on campus in mid-September and currently stands in the green space by Pease Auditorium, at the intersection of College Place and Cross Street.
“This is a huge moment for the campus," said Jim Schaefer, co-chair of the peace task force. "It's more than just plunking a wooden pole on campus — you need a focal point for change, and this is it. This is history in the making, where we decide to make peace a part of our heritage."
The project to install a peace pole at EMU began in February 2006. The idea began as a project for students in the "Communication and Change" course, said Schaefer. When Gary "Doc" Evans, professor of communication and theatre arts, suggested the idea of a peace pole and peace park, a group of students chose that as their change project for the class.
"I ended up on the group to do that project," said Schaefer, a graduate student in communication studies. "I became passionately involved because of what it can offer campus."
EMU's glossy white, eight-sided peace pole is made from western red cedar with 16 Plexiglas plaques. Schaefer worked with the Office of International Students to pick languages that represent the groups of students on EMU's campus.
The task force is in the process of getting EMU recognized as an official global participant in the activities of the United Nations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They plan to register for UNESCO's "International Decade of Peace and Nonviolence for Children," and "Culture of Peace through Heritage."
"This takes our campus to the cutting edge to cultivate peace," said Schaefer. "You can't order someone to be peaceful. We need to find a way to relate to each other without violence."
The World Peace Prayer Society, a non-profit group founded in Japan in 1955, sponsors the Peace Pole Project. Today, peace poles adorn more than 200,000 sites in 180 countries.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.