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Nuclear weapons talk puts focus on student activism

Even if something is difficult to achieve, we shouldn't give up on making a change, Geoff Wilson said Wednesdaynight.

Wilson, while addressing a captive audience in the chapel of Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, referred to the dangers that nuclear weapons pose to our world today. 

Wilson works as the Grants and Donor Communications Manager for the Ploughshares Fund. The group is a D.C.-based foundation that raises money and awards grants to research groups devoted to eliminating nuclear weapons across the globe. 

Past grantees of the Ploughshares Fund have won the Nobel Peace Prize, with the most recent being the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

“We are the largest foundation that’s sole goal is to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons worldwide,” Wilson said.

The Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, who believe nuclear weapons are a major issue for all, asked Wilson to speak. 

Every month the grassroots activist group meets to discuss future plans, and throughout the past few months, nuclear dangers were their highest priority.

During the talk, Wilson outlined the three biggest concerns with nuclear weapons today. The first two concerns were war with North Korea and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal with Iran that may fall apart. 

However, Wilson mainly focused on the third: U.S. weapons.

“Only two real nuclear weapons have ever been used in our history, yet we build and maintain tens of thousands of them,” Wilson said. 

Wilson also discussed hair-trigger alerts, or how the U.S. president could make the decision to immediately launch a nuclear missile without consulting any other elected officials.

“There are no checks and balances on the president’s ability to use nuclear weapons," Wilson said. "He is a nuclear monarch, and he is the sole authority to end human civilization.” 

BPAC’s goal in bringing Wilson to speak in Bloomington was to help raise activism among local citizens, especially college students. 

“I hope there will be a revival of student activism,” BPAC spokesperson David Keppel said. "They need to know that these people are informed, and that is how IU students can make a difference."

After the talk, the group gave a call to action, listing several ways to contact officials about these issues. Keppell also put emphasis on contacting Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. 

Donnelly serves on the Committee on Armed Services, which has political authority when it comes to nuclear weapons. 

“Even if they receive 20 calls, that is going to go on the senator’s desk,” Keppel said.

The talk inspired many of those in attendance, including IU alumnus Hemayatullah Shahrani. After the talk, Shahrani said she thought it is the job of citizens to bring their concerns to representatives.

“Politicians have constituents, and when enough of them raise a concern or use their voice, there is more incentive to take actions consistent with their constituents’ concerns,” Shahrani said.

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