Student Activist Groups Making a Difference on Campus and Beyond

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Students 4 Choice holding their signs during the sexual assault protest in the MEB parking lot on Friday, Nov 4, 2016

The University of Utah has become known for its highly involved campus.  Students at the U have started more than one hundred clubs, among which are a large number of student activist groups. Within the last month, these groups have organized and participated in several protests on campus and in downtown Salt Lake City. Some of the issues the students have taken stances on include the agenda of President Donald Trump, air quality and proposals to defund Planned Parenthood.

If students want to get involved with the organizations working to make a difference in the community, they can join one of the many student activist groups on campus:

MESTIZO ARTS AND ACTIVISM

This collective is comprised of an ethnically and academically diverse group of students concerned about issues facing the community.

According to their Facebook page, members of the group “are poets, painters, graffiti artists, musicians, dancers, activists, student leaders, high school and university students, community organizers and researchers who work collaboratively. We use our research and personal experiences as a way of promoting social justice and of making our voices heard.”

The group aims to observe and learn about social justice issues in their neighborhoods and then do what they can to address the problems. The Mestizo Arts and Activism Collective hope to cultivate leadership and unity, as well as inform others through art about the difficulties faced by young people of color.

Mestizo Arts and Activism Collective give speeches to Salt Lake City youth, complete art projects to help advocate their beliefs and even award scholarships.

ASIAN AMERICAN STUDENT ASSOCIATION (AASA)

Established in 1992, AASA is dedicated to the quest for social justice and equity for Asian Americans.  The group’s mission statement says, “The Association shall be an advocate for all Asian Americans within the state and will strive for equality in the areas of employment, housing, education and all other social and economical areas of the community.”

AASA has rapidly grown to be one of the largest student organizations at both the U and in the entire state of Utah.  The group holds events throughout the year, including but not limited to Asian American Awareness Week, Asian American Professional Speaker Series, Asian Pacific Islander American University Leadership Conference, and Asian American High School Conference.  The group helps members obtain internships, scholarships and jobs.

ASSOCIATE OF LATIN PROFESSIONALS FOR AMERICA (ALPA)

“ALPA expands opportunities for students who seek careers in accounting, finance and business-related fields by empowering them to develop as leaders through the management of chapters, delivering quality student programs focused on professional development, providing access to our industry network of professional members and sponsors, offering access to scholarship programs and creating opportunities to network with other students,” says the group’s Facebook page. “Membership is open to any University of Utah student who shares our values, mission, and principle”

ALPA gives presentations at schools in the Salt Lake City area and is involved with Latinos In Action, a high school and college group that seeks to get Latino youth involved in activism, social work and community service. The works to provide a path into the professional world for Latino students.

Students at the University of Utah walk out of classes on Thursday to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. (Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY (SDS)

SDS is a grassroots national organization with chapters at most universities, colleges and high schools.  According to their Facebook page, “Students for a Democratic Society is a radical, multi-issue student and youth organization working to build power in our schools and communities. We are entirely student and youth-led and have active chapters in high schools, colleges, universities, and cities all over the country.”

The group holds meetings and plans protests, all in an attempt to create change.  Lately, their efforts have primarily been in opposition to Trump’s agenda.  They have organized multiple marches on the capitol in opposition to the recently inaugurated president, as well as a student walkout on Jan. 19.

STUDENTS FOR CHOICE

Photo Courtesy of Kiman Kaur

“We are a student group, run by students at the University of Utah, working to involve students to become empowered in their reproductive health choices and local government,” Students for Choice said in their mission statement. “Working in conjunction with the Planned Parenthood Action Council, we believe in the fundamental rights of every individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, national origin, disability, or residence. We believe that respect and value for diversity in all aspects of our organization are essential to our well-being. We believe that reproductive self-determination must be voluntary and preserve the individual’s right to privacy. We further believe that such self-determination will contribute to an enhancement of the quality of life and strong family relationships.”

All registered students of the U can join. Requirements for membership include attending the monthly meeting on the first Wednesday of each month and participating in a minimum of one on-campus event and one advocacy event per semester.

The group organizes various events surrounding reproductive health throughout the year.  These include a safe sex kit-making seminar and the “Take Back The Night,” walk from Westminster to the University of Utah to promote safety for women walking alone at night.

YOU FOR ANIMAL LIBERATION (Y4AL)

Y4AL is a student community at the U that focuses on “compassionate, cruelty-free and plant-based lifestyles.”

This group hosts occasional events throughout the year, including a Vegan Hot Chocolate Night, a Vegan Off The Grid day, and a screening of the documentary “Cowspiracy.”  This past year the group also appealed to Chartwells, the on-campus dining provider, for more vegan options at the U.

Y4AL works to end all forms of animal abuse, including in agriculture and performing acts.

ENVIROCLUB

“The goal of EnviroClub is to unite students, faculty and our community with a common interest in the environment,” says the group’s mission statement. “We help students of all majors explore principles in environmental education, sustainability and activism.”

The club hopes to improve awareness of environmental problems on a local and global scale.  They do this through discussion, interaction with others and providing opportunities to gain hands-on experience in environmental work in the outdoors.

The EnviroClub works with the U’s Environmental and Sustainability Department to plan events.  These include hosting lunches with leaders in the environmental science field, volunteering with the Edible Campus Gardens and helping with projects of trail-making groups and the Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance.

c.macdonald@dailyutahchronicle.com

 

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