Peace(ful) Protest: Preserving the Peace College Legacy
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Many of you may know that I am a proud Class of 2004 Peace College graduate. Peace is a women’s liberal arts college located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, founded in 1854 by William Peace. On Thursday, July 21, 2011 the current president and Board of Trustees announced that the school would 1) change it’s name to William Peace University and 2) become co-ed beginning Fall 2012.
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Now, I’m all for change…Peace College has been changing for many years. However, many of us (alumni) found ourselves a bit shocked/heartbroken/betrayed that such a drastic change would come with little alumni input.
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This past Spring, Peace held a number of in-home “town-hall” meetings across the state to introduce the new president and share the college’s vision for the future. My mom and I attended in my home town…in fact, we were quite impressed with the new president (at the time) and thought that many of the changes were necessary…even if we grieved many of the old traditions that would be lost as a result of these changes.
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During those meetings, many alums expressed concern over a growing number of male students in the evening programs. A question was asked, “does Peace College have plans to go co-educational?” The response…”absolutely not.” Thus, I went home thinking that the changes were positive and that if it was a question of change or close the doors, I was certainly in favor of the proposed changes.
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Just a few months later, I feel as though my trust and support has been betrayed. Fortunately, I’m not alone. Once the announcement was released to the media, Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree and plans for a PEACE(ful) protest were set in motion.
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On Sunday, hundreds of local Peace College alumni gathered around the fountain. Many (including husbands and children) wore Peace College t-shirts…others wore all white as a symbol of our sisterhood. Roses were held high while singing our alma mater. It was so beautiful.
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After singing our alma mater, we threw our roses into the fountain in front of Main Building (this is a long-standing tradition following graduation). We then walked down to the front gate to meet with the media (the media was not allowed on campus).
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Before walking down to the gate, I waited by the fountain. Many alums took this opportunity to take pictures with fellow classmates. Children also took this opportunity to play in the fountain water. It was during these quiet moments that I captured the above scene. As sweet as this moment is, I immediately saw the future of Peace College.
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Once I got down to the gate, the media was ready and waiting to interview a few of our more outspoken alums. Mabel Dorsey, 1937 graduate, was happy to speak as our oldest alum. Even at the age of 93 she still radiates the Peace spirit.
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Obviously I don’t want Peace College to close…quite the contrary. Financially, I cannot save the college (I’m still paying off my student loans), but I was proud to stand by my Peace College sisters this past weekend…even in the 100 degree heat. My hope is that this PEACE(ful) protest opens the door for dialogue. I’m not sure if it’ll reverse any decisions, but it’s worth trying.
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If nothing else…my husband tells me that we are by far the nicest, most polite and well-dressed group of protesters he’s ever seen – thanks honey. If you are interested in reading more about our protest, click HERE (includes a video with a tiny clip of me). Also, if you attended or graduated from a women’s college, I’d love to hear your story.
Happy a wonderful Friday!