April 4, 2018

Two Student Leaders, Former Govt. Official Highlight CFPA Event

By Donald Gilpin

Andrew Weber, former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs, and two student leaders for gun safety, Princeton High School senior Dziyana Zubialevich and Princeton University freshman Ben Bollinger, will be featured at a Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) gathering on Sunday afternoon, April 8, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton on Cherry Hill Road. 

Zubialevich was the initiator and lead organizer of the Princeton March for Our Lives rally, which drew more than 4,000 people to Hinds Plaza on March 24 to demonstrate against gun violence and show solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Bollinger, founder and leader of Princeton Against Gun Violence at Princeton University, was a principal organizer of the March 14 walkout and demonstration at the University and of the University’s participation in the March for Our Lives. CFPA co-sponsored both the March 14 and March 28 events.

CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Bob Moore commented on “this emergence of new young leaders, not willing to buy into the status quo,” and his organization’s decision to honor Zubialevich and Bolling at the CFPA April 8 gathering.

“What’s really exciting for us this spring is this new leadership that’s come in since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida,” he said. “There’s been a huge upsurge in attendance and responsiveness and success of these events, and we want to recognize that, to recognize this important new development and what the young people are doing.”

Bollinger noted the high level of engagement in the movement to oppose gun violence. Citing the six anti-gun violence bills that passed the New Jersey General Assembly last week, Bollinger stated, “There’s real change happening in New Jersey. It’s not something that’s going away. This movement will continue.”

He continued, “It’s a unique moment in terms of the number of young people engaged politically. Political discussions are permeating the school culture.” Bollinger pointed out that his organization has continued a phone bank and letter drive, seeking support from legislators and others, as well as making voter registration a priority in all their events.

He emphasized that the issue of gun control goes beyond schools. “There is a plethora of issues,” he said. “We need a sustained focus on all aspects of gun violence in our society.”

The April 8 CFPA membership renewal gathering will include a light meal from 2-3 p.m., followed by a keynote presentation by Weber at 3 p.m. With 30 years of U.S government service, Weber was President Obama’s assistant secretary of defense for five and a half years. He was a driving force behind Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts to remove weapons-grade uranium from Kazakhstan and Georgia and nuclear-capable MiG-29 aircraft from Moldova, to reduce biological weapons threats and to destroy Libyan and Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles.

He serves on the board of the Arms Control Association and the James Martin Center for Non-proliferation Studies International Advisory Council. He taught a course at the Georgetown University Graduate School for Foreign Service for seven years, and was a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

“Like CFPA, Weber is highly critical of the U.S. Nuclear Modernization — which is really technological escalation — Program; as well as of the Trump administration’s anti-diplomatic approach to the Iran Nuclear Agreement,” said Moore.

For further information, visit the CFPA website at www.peacecoalition.org or call (609) 924-5022.