Guide Citizens Primer for Conservation Activism: How to Fight Development in Your Community

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In addition to helping prospective students find a welcoming campus, this article also helps student activists identify areas where their campus may need work. In , North Carolina passed a law mandating that people must use the bathroom of the biological sex they were born with, regardless of the gender they identify with.

The University of North Carolina system announced it would adhere to the state law in April, resulting in waves of protests at appearances by the university president as well as sit-ins at campus bathrooms and administration buildings.

PDF Citizen's Primer for Conservation Activism: How to Fight Development in Your Community

By May, the university said it would not enforce the law. In , a group of LBGTQ students sued the University of Georgia after it refused to let gay and lesbian students fully participate in social functions. The courts ruled in their favor, and later that year the plaintiffs held a dance for LGBTQ students on campus. Decisions made within the political arena by government officials have long been scrutinized by student activists, with examples ranging from local government intervention in education to national issues like the Vietnam War.

Many student-led political groups originated from other student clubs focused on conservative and liberal platforms. Democracy Matters works with college students on initiatives that ensure democracy for generations to come. This nonpartisan organization encourages students to participate in politics and civic engagement to change political systems. In , students at Portland State University called for legislators to create a plan for students to graduate from public institutions without massive debt. In response, the Oregon legislature passed a bill allowing students to finish their degrees without paying in exchange for a year payment plan tied to their income.

Other states are now considering this option.

Students at more than secondary and postsecondary campuses held protests over two months. Student activists run the gamut on issues surrounding sexual health, with some working to expand abstinence programs in high school and others seeking to increase access to birth control. Sexual harassment is an area where most people come together to lessen the number of incidents by providing greater campus security and educating men and women about anti-harassment policies.

Amplify focuses on empowering students to advocate for positive and realistic approaches to sexual health. Its toolkits for youth activists and condom campaigns are particularly useful. NPWF champions sexual health and safety and helps student groups push for comprehensive sex education in their schools. With a focus on ending domestic violence and sexual assault, No More provides a range of campus resources for student activists, including a free toolkit with branded advocacy materials.

This nonprofit offers evidence-based research on reproductive health and sexuality for girls and women. This organization works with student-led groups who are fighting against interpersonal and sexual violence on college campuses. Students at BC gained national coverage when, after petitioning the school for a sexual health referendum to provide greater access to birth control and sex education, the school threatened to discipline the students.

After Columbia University found a male student not responsible for the sexual assault of a female student, she began carrying a mattress around campus to protest the school's handling of the case and draw attention to the emotional burden survivors of rape bear. A wide ranging concept, social justice is concerned with any mistreatment of an individual by society. In the case of student activism, this may relate to student mistreatment by the school administration.

Issues span from racism and sexism to access to healthcare or education, and students often join with larger activism groups to amplify their collective voice. Students looking to be inspired by the work of other social justice activists can tune into these five motivating TED Talks. The National Education Association wrote this op-ed on the importance of working for social justice. Focused on getting universities to use their money ethically, REF has basic guides on what endowments are and how to lead a divestment campaign, as well as tools to push administrators toward alternative investments.

Rethink is youth activist organization formed in to raise awareness via multimedia about issues important to young people, such as bullying. One of its biggest projects is Rethink Violence, a call for restorative justice for young people. After forming the SPU Justice Coalition in , student activists created a website, engaged social media and protested on campus to address what they perceived to be racist and sexist hiring policies.

As they saying goes, "Learn to walk before you run.

Students can fall into some common pitfalls if they rush to deploy their plans. Use these tips and tricks to increase your chances of success:. Extra money is a luxury in college, so finding outlets to raise awareness for free is crucial. The last thing a student movement needs is a member going rogue, so focus on talking points whenever your group communicates.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education produces a guide on challenging rules at universities that prohibit forms of speech commonly protected in public society. Issues of discrimination are common topics of student activism, and for good reason.

How the U.S. Protects the Environment, From Nixon to Trump

No person should have to live in a setting where they feel discriminated against. For instance, asking students to sign a petition against sexual assault policies is a worthwhile mission, but taking an anti-male stance undercuts the core message against discrimination. While all Americans are entitled to free speech under the First Amendment, some colleges dictate where free speech — be it handing out leaflets, gathering signatures for a petition or picketing — can be done on campus. Some schools may even threaten students with suspension or expulsion for engaging in certain types of activism.

Students must know their rights. The American Civil Liberties Union provides a comprehensive guide on First Amendment rights and what students should do if they feel their rights have been violated. Although securing a change to the law or getting the President to create a new anti-discriminatory task force may make the news, smaller acts of civic engagement can make an incremental difference in your school community and the world.

Here are some examples of what students of all ages are doing:. Student activists have been at the heart of social progress for decades, serving as instrumental participants in movements against sexism and racism and for more civil rights and freedoms. College campuses often serve as incubators of these movements, providing a setting where students discover their passions and develop skills to combat prejudice and inequality.

The Society for Conservation Biology

While parents and educators may worry about these activities, there are several benefits of student activism for students, schools, communities and the nation. In addition to classroom learning, student activists develop skills while campaigning for their cause, including public speaking, persuasion, critical thinking and negotiation. Students who participate in politics from an early age can cement themselves as active members of society who stay abreast of current issues and engage with the political process. Although student activists may start with one pet issue, seeing a project through to a satisfying conclusion can build a lifelong devotion to standing up for their communities.

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For example, when a school enacts a recycling plan, it benefits the environment. When racial policies are successfully defeated, it means greater access for more people. Many of the inequalities facing the U. Student activists provide a public service by educating their communities on injustices occurring around them. Eddie Thompson is no stranger to activism. His parents started attending rallies when Eddie was young, and he's worked on numerous grassroots initiatives in Florida.

He has mobilized voters to elect like-minded candidates while also promoting specific public policy changes. He plans on raising his children to be vocal and passionate activists. A One of the bright spots about social media is how important information is passed with ease amongst users.

Expert Faculty: Ron Shiffman, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment Professor

You no longer have to post flyers on bulletin boards or telephone poles. They quickly see that they are not alone fighting this issue and can get attention within seconds of a post.


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This sense of community emotion drives a more passionate crowd and helps produce a louder voice of change. A Get involved in a community service organization. There are tons of local organizations who could use the zeal and passion of students to effect change locally.

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A One of the benefits of student activism is how it helps a student to look at life globally and not myopically. When we can open our eyes to see the struggles of our fellow man, it takes the focus off our self-interests and places it on other people. These movements of change should be viewed as a vehicle of doing good and should be encouraged by the older generations. A Different ways to get other people to join their cause: Know the facts on the issue because knowledge is powerful, and people are attracted to power.

As I was working furiously on Point Creek, developers bought a parcel of land near and dear to my heart. The Hika pronounced High-Kah Conservancy parcel is only feet from my property. It borders the property of my next-door neighbor and extends to Centerville Creek and Hika Park on the other side. The initial proposal was for thirty-six condominiums. Of all the projects I had worked on, this was the first that was truly in my backyard! The four-acre Hika Conservancy land included feet of sandy Lake Michigan beach, a ridge and swale dune formation, wetland, a wooded area, and a meadow.

The beach is accessible without traversing a bluff, which is unusual on this side of Lake Michigan. Despite its small acreage, Hika Conservancy is host to numerous migratory birds and animals and is part of the Centerville Creek Watershed.

Several state and scientific studies have identified important aspects of the land. Hika Park is Cleveland's only park on Lake Michigan and is known mainly for its boat ramp, used by area fishermen. A small beach adjoins the boat ramp, but the area is too small to accommodate both swimmers and boaters safely. As the population grows, Hika Park will be wholly inadequate in a few years.

I envision people crammed into little Hika Park, while a vast expanse of beach remains unused by all except a handful of beachfront landowners. Many residents of the Hika neighborhood around the park have an alternate vision in which the undeveloped land is added to Hika Park.