Today: May 22, 2024

Small idea turns to big event on Campus: Day of Peace

Kendra Baker – Staff Writer

As Michael Ruscoe, adjunct instructor of English, looked over his calendar, he noticed that the last day of his INQ 101 class fell on Dec. 8—the anniversary of the death of former Beatles member and peace activist, John Lennon.

“I felt [my class and I] had to do something to honor his legacy,” said Ruscoe, who has been a fan of The Beatles since age 13. “It struck me that trying to organize some sort of campus-wide day of peace would be appropriate.”

Planning, organizing, and managing a campus event was the last thing Jenese Morgan, nursing major, expected to be doing for her freshman year class.

“I thought [Ruscoe] was crazy,” said Morgan, now a sophomore. “We were all a bunch of freshmen that only knew each other inside the class—I wasn’t sure how we were going to pull it off.”

Ruscoe told Morgan and her classmates that their class project was to host Southern’s first-ever Day of Peace—an event, according to Ruscoe’s blog, designed to “promote peace within [oneself], across campus, across the community, across the nation, across the world, and across the universe.”

Although his students initially thought he was “absolutely crazy because it had never been done before,” said Ruscoe, “they gradually got on board and we had an absolutely wonderful time.”

Ruscoe and his class put together a festival in the Lyman Center on Dec. 1, 2011 that included speakers, a discussion panel with veterans, dancing, poetry readings, a student talent show, club fair, and live music by Old Man Noises—a classic rock band that Ruscoe is a member of.

“It was a big success and SAFAC—who funded it—asked if we could make it an annual event,” said Ruscoe, “so I planned the same class this year and we’re organizing another Day of Peace.”

Ruscoe said several of his former students said the 2011 Day of Peace was one of the most meaningful experiences of their freshman year, and some of them are coming back to be involved in this year’s Day of Peace.

Rohit Grover, sophomore psychology major and one of Ruscoe’s returning students, said he has spoken to Ruscoe’s current class about the Day of Peace.

“Last year we started from scratch, but this year’s class is more organized and knows what they’re doing, which is great to see because it’ll make it a more successful event,” said Grover who worked as an MC with Morgan at last year’s Day of Peace and said he’s thinking about doing it again this year.

For the second-annual Day of Peace, Ruscoe’s class has planned to have a performance by a stand-up comedian, free movie screening of “Animal House,” discussion panel with Southern students who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, poetry readings, a club fair, and live music by Old Man Noises.

In order to promote the event, the class has displayed posters across campus weeks in advance, and plan on sending out press releases to local media outlets and possibly making a banner to hang on Southern’s footbridge.

“It’s still a relatively small event, but it’s one that we hope will grow as we keep doing it over the years,” said Ruscoe. “I hope a lot of people come, I hope people have a good time, and I hope a lot of people think—even for just a few minutes—about peace and its importance.”

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