by Maddy Dillon, staff writer
The Activism Committee is in full force, supporting student engagement in events and activities that are intended to make a positive difference in the civic life of the community. The committee recently launched a website where students can find application forms, guidelines for applying for funds, and guidelines for general activism.
In the past two years, participation in activism events has been funded through the president’s discretionary fund. In an effort to make allotting funds more consistent and established, a task force was formulated to create the Activism Fund. A committee, made up of faculty, staff, and students who had experience in activism, explored legal ramifications with the college’s lawyers and researched how other schools provided similar funding. Based on their findings, they created a list of guidelines that fell within the parameters of our tax exemptions and developed a fair application process that provides students access to the fund.
According to the Activism Fund website, activities may include political and non-political experiences that raise awareness or promote systemic change around specific issues. Support from this Fund may be used toward, but is not limited to, conferences, workshops, leadership training, networking, coalition building, and off-campus activist events such as rallies, lobbying, boycotts, protests, direct action, and media activism.
“Doing activism is part of [the college’s] mission,” Cathy Kramer said.
The college’s mission statement includes the commitment to encouraging development of civic engagement and a sense of social justice. The Activism Fund provides students with suggestions and financial support for the pursuit of these engagements.
The committee will fund up to $800 for one event and generally costs are limited to $20-75 per person depending on expenses. The committee expects students to share the costs, and groups can choose to distribute funds in the way that works best for their goals.
The Activism Committee will not fund illegal activity since the college is bound by specific legal restrictions.
“Because we get federal funding there are specific guidelines we need to follow,” Kramer said.
Students participating in a sponsored trip will need to sign an agreement that they will not get arrested.
“Students can’t make that choice in the moment to cross the line,” Kramer said.
If students accept the college’s funding, they give up that choice to be arrested upfront. The Activism Committee encourages students to go to an event on their own if they aren’t sure if they are going to cross the line or not.
In addition to funding, the Activism Committee also provides students with information, resources, and things to think about when participating in events. Their goal is to teach students about activism and to think critically about their experiences.
Kramer wants to students ask themselves: “What will I gain from this experience?” and “When do I choose to be a part of a protest or political action?”
A few events have already been funded this year and others are in the application process. Applications can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks prior to the event. The committee will then review the application and allot funds as they see fit.
The fund has $5000 available to distribute in the 2011-2012 academic year. Check out the new Activism Fund website under the General Resources and Tools heading on the inside page for more information.