Going to college happens at a time in your life when you can decide what you’re most passionate about. This includes deciding what your convictions are and how you feel about what is happening around the world. A place full of ideas, your university offers you plenty of people with whom you can debate and discuss different issues around the world. It’s a perfect place to find the social causes, initiatives, and efforts you’re eager to take part in or contribute to.
Lots of students find that, during their time in college or university, there are plenty of ways to get involved in protests, marches, sit-ins, rallies, lectures, and fundraisers. But, where do you start? Here are some tips and ideas for how you can begin your efforts to create a better world and bring awareness to something you’re passionate about.
Find Organizations Associated with Your University
At the start of the school year, as everyone is forming friendships, joining fraternities and sororities, and signing up for classes, there is also time to see what kinds of clubs or organizations already exist on your campus. University organizations aren’t just made up of fraternities and debate clubs (although these groups do participate in a lot of social outreach); there are also groups devoted to specific issues and political perspectives. Whether it’s a religious group, an environmental advocacy group, or a group celebrating a particular ethnic or cultural heritage, there are plenty of people who are eager to put on events, fight for different issues, and have their voices heard. Because universities are often diverse places, full of students from all over the world, you’re sure to find groups who will happily welcome like-minded members and people who are willing to work hard for their cause.
Start Your Own Organization
After you’ve looked into the organizations that your university offers, you may find that there aren’t any that suit you. Perhaps you’ve explored the groups that appeal to you, but then decided you would rather establish your own group instead. Either way, it’s important that you find a comfortable home for you to express your ideals and convictions; and perhaps there are people just as disgruntled and passionate as you are, who would happily join your group. Once you’ve started your own organization, you can establish the tenets and constitution for that organization, giving you the ability to bring attention to whichever social cause you find yourself advocating for.
Stay Informed About Events Happening on Campus
If you don’t have the time to join (or form) organizations and participate in regular meetings, you can still find out what kinds of events different organizations are hosting. You may find that, although you don’t want to join the Sustainability Organization, you may still want to join their rally on smart consumption or alternative energy. Great! Try to be in contact with someone in that group, so that even if you can’t be an official member, you can still show your support and solidarity when they host an event. Subscribe to their newsletter, join their Facebook page, or simply find someone in the group who will happily bring you to an event. After all, these events are always better with more people. They would be happy to have you there with them!
Learn the Rules and Regulations about Protests and Rallies at Your University
Throughout North America, universities are often public spaces, allowing anyone to walk in or out as they please (with a few restrictions). Still, when it comes to organizing marches, rallies, and protests, universities have specific provisions about what you’re allowed to do and what you’re prohibited from doing. Make sure you know what the rules and regulations actually are. If you stay within those rules, you can be sure that your rights will be upheld and that the university cannot get in the way of your organization, cause, protest, or rally. In addition to following the rules and making sure you can continue your fight for justice, try to be as peaceful and safe as possible. Keep in mind that violence, rioting, and harassment are prohibited at all universities.
Tip: Use the university’s rules to your advantage! If you’re given only a small space to hold a peaceful protest or rally, pack as many people in as you can. It will draw more attention to your cause.
Make Sure You Know the Cause You’re Fighting For
College is the perfect time in your life to fight for a cause; it’s a wonderful occasion to be a part of widespread social change or to bring attention to the issues surrounding our lives. But, social politics and social issues are often very complex, with little certainty about who or what is involved or affected. It’s important that the social cause you are urging everyone to fight for or care about is actually something with which you’d like to associate.
Many times, groups don’t outwardly express what their platform or agenda involves. Often, although they suggest fighting for good causes or noble ideas, many groups are also involved in violence or other illegal activities. Be sure to do your research before joining any specific efforts, marches, or initiatives. This is not to say that you have to join groups just because everyone will approve of it, but you don’t want to join groups whose interest can end up harming others or harming the things you actually believe in. It’s also important that you know as much as possible about the issue that you’re trying to confront. Global politics and social issues are often extremely
It’s also important that you know as much as possible about the issue that you’re trying to confront. Global politics and social issues are often extremely complex and don’t always have a clear good or bad side. So, if you’re interested in joining a social cause on campus, and being a part of something that you find important, you’re encouraged to do so! Just be sure you take the extra steps to be informed and prepared.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).