The power of youth: Student activism summit offers methods of speaking out

By By Clara Freedman

By Clara Freedman

A diverse group of students from the U, other local colleges and high schools joined together for the Utah Progressive Network’s first ever Youth Activism Summit on Saturday and Sunday.

The summit, sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center and held in Orson Spencer Hall and on the Union Patio, focused on advocating youth interest and involvement in activism.

Debra Daniels, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said that they are encouraging youth to be “outspoken, empowered and active” in issues that directly affect them.

Daniels said she became involved with the summit because “the qualities we are urging in youth are the same ones that we foster in women” through the resource center.

It is important for high school and college students to collaborate because they can learn and motivate each other, she said.

By having a youth summit at a university, “we can promote higher education and show that the campus is an available place for young people to identify issues and voice opinion,” she said.

“I think activism is very important because we need to learn to communicate to those in power that we, as youth, do have opinions and views that need to be heard,” said John Spillman, a senior political science and sociology major who attended the summit.

The summit offered a variety of workshops, open mic night, free breakfast, lunch and dinner and a Saturday night dance.

The workshops, ranging in topics from radio essays and ‘zine making to stenciling, highlighted some different media through which youth can push their right to be heard, Daniels said.

Liz Coleman, a junior majoring in English, helped to facilitate the ‘zine-making and radio-essay workshops as part of her job at the Community Writing Center.

‘Zines are inexpensively produced, self-published works, usually containing writing and art.

“‘Zines are great ways that you can express and shed light on your personal opinions and views through art and writing,” Coleman said.

Thomas Nelson, a sophomore majoring in mass communication, said he has been working with other students to organize the summit since last spring.

The student organizers found local businesses to sponsor costs, which included food, a live DJ for the dance and sound equipment for the acoustic luncheon and open mic.

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