California State University, Stanislaus is welcoming the fifth grandson of Mahatma Gandhi to the campus on Thursday for a dedication of a Peace Pole, a symbol of humanity’s hope for a better world.
The dedication ceremony is slated for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the university’s quad and will be followed by a presentation from Arun Gandhi on his book “The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi.”
Mahatma Gandhi successfully used nonviolent civil disobedience to lead the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India, and was an inspiration for other leaders and movements around the world, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement in the United States. Arun Gandhi’s came to live at his grandfather’s famous ashram, Sevagram, at age 12 and describes himself as “an angry young boy” who under his grandfather’s influence and tutelage learned “the lessons that forever changed the direction” of his life.
Taking a moment to celebrate and honor efforts to create peace is especially important in today’s climate, according to Arun Gandhi.
“Grandfather would probably be unhappy to find that the habit of following the crowd has only gotten worse as social media lets us ‘like’ and ‘follow’ without much thought,” Arun Gandhi said in the news release. “A celebrity describes her weight-loss regimen and millions of people try it, even if it makes as littles sense as the pumpkin diet. A politician makes rude or bigoted statements and people don’t object because they support the same political party. Religious leaders make pronouncements that interfere with women’s rights and people accept them without a murmur in the name of tradition.”
A Peace Pole is a monument that displays the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth” in the language of the country where it has been placed, and usually has several other translations printed on it as well. The Peace Pole Project stated tens of thousands of Peace Poles in 180 countries all over the world dedicated as monuments to peace.
The dedication comes at a time when the Stanislaus State campus is being asked to deal with allegations of racism and violence by one member of the student body. Nathan Damigo is a student at Stanislaus State and the self-proclaimed founder of Identity Evropa, a group identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as promoting a message of white supremacy at college campuses throughout the nation through fliers with slogans like “Let’s Become Great Again” and “Protect Your Heritage.” Damigo became the topic of national conversation after a video surfaced allegedly showing him punching a woman in the face at a protest in Berkeley earlier this month.
As the video went viral, Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn issued a statement saying the university had begun an investigation into the incident and would take appropriate actions if deemed necessary.
“The university has zero tolerance for the use of violence and we will take all of the necessary legal and disciplinary measure to ensure that all students and everyone on campus have a safe and secure environment,” said Junn.
A petition on the website Change.org wants the university to take more decisive action against Damigo. As of Tuesday, 150 people had signed the petition stating they felt unsafe on the same campus with Damigo.
As of Tuesday, 150 people had signed the petition stating they felt unsafe on the same campus with Damigo.