Inclement weather doesn't stop Peace Camp from educating students

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Students gather during lunch to hear 
Professor Brett O'Bannon speak during Peace Camp.
SAM CARAVANA / THE DEPAUW

Nestled in the green space between Roy O. West and Asbury, DePauw’s annual Peace Camp began on October 6.

Despite what seemed like day after day of gloomy weather, the lawn outside of Roy O West once again became home to the tradition that is known as Peace Camp.

Every fall, interns at the Compton Center for Peace and Justice put together a group of talks and events during Peace Camp.

With their slogan, “Creating a more just and equitable society through education, advocacy and activism,” Peace Camp focuses on students' view points on how they can change perceptions of issues plaguing the world. With each intern required to host an event, Peace Camp features a wide range of topics and conversations.

This year, Peace Camp boasted talks ranging from issues like Ferguson, feminism and religion.

“During Peace Camp we hope to accomplish in educating people on issues that are affecting everyone, not just DePauw,” sophomore Kainat Akmal said. “The easiest way to eliminate discrimination is through education.”

The start of the Compton Center for Peace and Justice began with Russell J Compton, a former DePauw professor, who fought for social justice.

With its history rooted in the practice of fighting for social justice, it’s no surprise that the Compton Center’s many symbolic events took place. Walking to and from class it’s easy to see the group of four to six tents that are pitched on the lawn.

Most people, however, are unaware that the act of students sleeping in the tents is quite symbolic.

“The idea of sleeping in the tents is an acknowledgement that there are those that have less then you,” said sophomore Drake Yeiter. “It’s almost a moment of solidarity, representing the sacrifice that we are making. It's cold outside everyone that has stayed in a tent has complained of being cold and wet. But we still continue to do it.”

In a small town like Greencastle, the DePauw bubble is seemingly inescapable. Peace Camp focuses on educating students about the struggles of certain groups.

Senior Maryclare Flores begins work on a 
chalk drawing of a peace sign. 
SAM CARAVANA / THE DEPAUW

“A lot of students at DePauw come from privileged families and are well off,” Akmal said. “They may take a class here that exposes them to the issues we focus on but that is often in their junior and senior years. Our attempts at bringing these issues forward are in hopes of educating people much faster and in time before their experience at DePauw is over.”

Not all students understood what Peace Camp was or had to offer.

Freshmen Jillian Phillips was one of those students.

“I feel like the event wasn’t well published” Phillips said. “I honestly had no idea what was going on, I just went to the library one day and tents were pitched outside. It wasn’t until Wednesday that I truly knew that this was a campus event. Maybe if they had gotten the word out better more people would show up and get to experience what was going on.”

With factors such as rain and the lack of publicity, it was questionable whether this year’s Peace Camp was in fact a successful one.

“We saw a lot of new and fresh faces around peace camp this year,” Akmal said. “That is what made it successful. We also saw that bigger groups of people were coming in, which was great!”

The rain and cold temperatures could not prevent DePauw students from talking about important social issues affecting campus as well as the rest of the world.

Some of the highlights of the week included “Ferguson: It’s a matter of race not circumstance,” “Let’s talk about sex: breaking down myths and common misconceptions”, and “Education Inequality: Questions of Race, Class and Children’s Future.”

Yeiter’s favorite event of the week was “I’m not a feminist but…”  

“It was a really interesting take on the topic.” Yeiter said. “And surprisingly enough there were a decent amount of guys that showed up to the talk. That was the most important thing about the talk for me.”

Professor Brett O'Bannon speaks during Peace Camp.
SAM CARAVANA / THE DEPAUW

Peace Camp will conclude on Friday at 7:00 p.m. with the “Coming Out Monologues” sponsored by LGBT Services and United DePauw. “Coming Out Monologues” will celebrate national Coming Out Day with various speakers, poets and performances, which will be held in the Peeler Art Center Auditorium.

While Peace Camp nearing its end, it certainly has left a lasting impression on those who attended.

“For me, the Peace Camp offered a feeling of community and a safe place to freely discuss my views and learn and listen to new perspectives on issues students are passionate about,” first-year Courtney Batteast said. “I definitely enjoyed my experience.”