Disclaimer: Content on the YP4 blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation. The views, ideas, statements or claims posted on this site by members of the public cannot in any way be attributed to either Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation.
Our very own Andrew Gillum, a Tallahassee City Commissioner, and the founder and national director of Young Elected Officials (YEO), a partner of YP4 and program of People for the American Way Foundation, has been nominated by IMPACT to become their 2007 Emerging Leader of the Year! Show your support by voting for Andrew!
Last March, Florida State University joined campuses across the country in creating an all-inclusive (race, gender, sexual orientation, SES, disability, religion, etc.) non-discrimination policy. While many campuses today seem to be leaning towards more progressive values and policies, the latest activity around FSU's Student Union Board marks a move in the opposite direction and a backwards policy recoil.
The concept of global citizenship is no new notion. In fact, it dates back to fourth-century Greece, when Stoic philosophers identified themselves as citizens of the world. But for Timothy Den Herder-Thomas, a 2007 YP4 Fellow at Macalester College, this unifying concept is markedly absent on campus. Realizing that the intention to create social change was present, but the ability to "work together across difference to advance a collective vision" was not, Timothy launched Defining Global Citizenship through Collective Responsibility, a Blueprint designed to promote the idea of citizen-based engagement as a lifestyle and highlight the responsibilities of being members of a global community.
A commitment to social justice is a lifelong dedication for which it is crucial to build a network of both likely and unlikely allies and supporters, and cultivate an open space in which individual and collective ideas can emerge and develop. Zachary Dryden, Florida State University's 2007 YP4 Fellow, has decided to do just that by planning a Social Change Weekend retreat for 40 young adults to discuss the overarching theme of discrimination and oppression.
Many student groups at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio were outraged when they heard that ultra-conservative Ann Coulter was coming to speak on September 6th. Inspired by this upcoming visit, student groups formed a coalition with organizations including People for the American Way, Equality Ohio, Progress Ohio, HRC and NOW-Cincinnati to counter Ann Coulter's $20,000 speaking fee and raise some money of their own to support the student groups on campus working to uphold the many values Coulter is famous for assaulting.
For Tanisha Douglas, a 2007 YP4 Fellow at Georgetown University, social justice groups on campus had the right intentions but lacked the capacity to push their work beyond the campus quad. Wrestling with her desire to "work together in true partnership" and build a global vision through dialogue and discussion, Tanisha has designed a Blueprint to provide the resources necessary for each group's growth, effectiveness and vision development.
After realizing groups on campus were not having conversations about "their larger vision, how they can be better community partners and global advocates and the larger implications of their work," Tanisha developed a plan to hold a day of trainings and workshops designed to build skills and provide an opportunity for analysis of social justice issues within both the D.C. and global contexts. Workshops included Introduction to D.C., Privilege and Community Awareness, Vision Development and Goal Setting. With the help of local nonprofit leaders, Tanisha also conducted trainings focused on mentoring, advocacy and literacy tutoring skills. Held on April 22, the Vision and Know How Symposium drew 25 students committed to facilitating positive social change. Tanisha has been working with Georgetown's Center for Social Justice; her Blueprint will provide a model for a larger training that students and the Center plan to hold next year.
At Carleton College, Love Anani, a YP4 2007 Fellow, firmly believes in the potential of students of color to serve as leaders but is discontented with the leadership roles they have taken on campus. He is concerned that the school has devoted inadequate support and time to providing leadership development opportunities to students of color. In an effort to contest this, Love will "demand that the school take the time and effort to train students of color as they do majority students" and rally students towards assuming leadership positions.
By planning an interactive retreat for cultural groups on campus, Love hopes to help facilitate this process and transform the school's communities of color into active, confident leaders. With the aid of the Office of Intercultural Life, Dean of Students Office and Cultural Student Groups, Love will utilize a variety of means and resources to train students in leadership skills, organizing, and networking, ultimately building greater drive and determination among Carleton College's communities of color.
Laura Hadden, a 2007 YP4 Fellow at Evergreen State College, has designed an innovative, thoughtful and confrontational Blueprint addressing the public's view of welfare recipients and the way in which these views directly affect the lives of families on welfare.
Her work is innovative in that she chose to weave together photographs and audio interviews to create a mixed-media exhibit that explores the faces and stories of welfare families; thoughtful in that she intends to formulate a means to "empower those families to have a voice and speak directly against the stereotypes and appeal for more community and government support," and confrontational in its intent to challenge the stigma attached to so many welfare families, break down the public's stereotypes and ultimately challenge legislators -- with public support -- to appeal full family sanctions.
Laura's strategy for success revolves around media outreach with various independent media outlets, alliance building with nonprofits such as the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition, and the support of local and student-run organizations and businesses to help sponsor and host her exhibit. With the goal of taking the exhibit on a two-week tour across the state of Washington, Laura hopes the power of art, image and sound will engage the public in critical discussion and bring a human face to the struggles of life on welfare.
Imagine growing up in the United States and graduating from high school, only to be hit with the realization that your future is being compromised due to immigration laws and your parents' undocumented status. This is the story of many students: supported by New York's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for high school enrollment but undermined by their legal status and the subsequent denial of access to higher education.
George Mtonga, a 2007 YP4 Fellow at CUNY Hunter, has designed a year-long mentoring program to directly address the needs of these students.
Students across the nation are avid supporters and defenders of civil rights; yet more often than not, the fight for civil liberties exists as an idealistic notion only, never quite materializing. 2007 YP4 Fellow Anders Ibsen-Nowak is working to combat this trend and mobilize the Evergreen State College community around the issue. Anders is working to establish a sustainable ACLU chapter at Evergreen State College by organizing "likeminded students" and reaching out to younger students.