The following reflection is from Deja Kemp-Salliey ’22, a former Pace University student who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2021. Students were given service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN and New York City. Deja’s assignment was with the New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN), NYC-based activists associated with 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
My assignment with NYCAN involved contacting New York City Council Members to advocate for important nuclear disarmament legislation (Res. 976 and Int. 1621). This consisted of calls and emails to sitting Council Members to convince them to vote in favor when the bills came to the floor.
At the beginning of the semester, I was not at all excited to complete the civic engagement portion of this class. I thought it would just be another burden on top of an already heavy course load this semester. However, I think the civic engagement was extremely beneficial and that I gained a lot from an experience that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to participate in.
Standing outside of City Hall to push for NYCAN’s cause and to speak to Council Members was an experience that I found to be rewarding. Working alongside NYCAN gave me insight into the political aspects of the disarmament policy process. When the bills were passed, it made me feel like I contributed to a greater cause and that my work made a difference in New York City politics.
The legislation represents an important step towards disarmament, so I am glad that these critical bills were approved by the Council and that NYC has joined the ICAN Cities Appeal, a list of cities taking a stand against nuclear weapons.