Over Twenty Ways to Use this Site to Improve Your Activism
(Note: this version was written for campus activists)
1. You Want to Win Your Local Campaign
You don't network because you want someone to tell you what to do.
You should network so that you can do what *you* want -- only better.
that are working on the same or a similar
campaign. Email them. Call them. Visit them.
They can tell you what worked and failed for them and then you can adjust
this advice to the specific situation on your campus. You can use other
(leaflets, research papers, and essays),
and when the
campaign comes down to the wire, you can ask for their support. They can
email your school newspaper, email/fax/call your administrators, and even
show up at your campus for a rally to express their support.
2. You Want to Win Your Campaign Everywhere
Once you've got your group all charged up and you're winning your local
campaign, now is an excellent time to share your goals and strategy with
activists at other schools so that they can repeat your success. If you network
you can help create progressive social change that will affect thousands of people
living in other communities.
that you have collected or written yourself about the
campaign. Leaflets, graphics,
an essay on the campaign's goals and tactics, a campaign packet - whatever
you have. You can also
search for groups
search for people
who might be interested
in working on this campaign based on what issues they listed that they cared
about. Email, call, and/or
mail them to ask. If your issue/campaign isn't already included in
our list of issues
then you can
Then you will be able to associate materials, events, groups, and
email lists, and people with that issue.
3. Winning for the Long Term
Most student activist groups have high levels of turnover. Within one or two
years your group could lose almost all of its leadership, resources, files, members,
contacts, organizational memory, and skills. Ultimately the campaigns that you
fought so hard to won can be reversed after you've graduated and the issue has
been forgotten. To maintain your organization's strength, you need to constantly
empower and train your new members to become leaders, have an active advisor who will
help keep the group alive, and maintain archives that record what your group has achieved.
In addition, you will benefit from being plugged into a national network of activists
through CampusActivism.org. If your group dwindles down to a couple members, but
still knows about this website, then they will be able to find conferences, protests,
ideas for campaigns, organizing resources, speakers and trainers -
everything they need to resurrect the group. You should also write up a history of
your group's activities (perhaps with a strategic analysis of what worked and what
didn't) and upload it as a resource for
both future activists from your school and activists from all schools.
4. You Want to Attend a Conference
Check out the
list of events
for nearby conferences where you can learn new
skills, about issues, network, and have fun. You can also
search for it.
5. You Want to Attend a Large Protest
Show your support for a just cause and get inspired by being a part of a
larger movement by attending a protest. Search for a protest
that is near you.
6. You Want to Organize a Conference, Protest, or National Day of Action
Advertise your event by
listing it in the events calendar
. You can also
might be interested in attending.
If you are in the United States or Canada, you can limit your search to only find
groups and people within a certain distance
of your conference or protest. This is much more efficient than searching
by state, especially for people who don't live in the exact middle of a state. You can
also limit your search by issue.
For instance if you are organizing a peace conference you might want to invite
all the people and groups who said they were interested in peace and multiple
issues (listed on the site as 'multi-issue'). Or you might want to be more
ambitious and invite people and groups who care about other issues as well.
If it was a weekend conference, you might want to invite everyone within 500
miles (more if it is a quality event of national importance). If it was just
a mini-conference lasting one day, you might want to limit your distance to
100-200 miles. Try to be appropriate in choosing whom to invite. Don't send
out emails to everyone on the site for a local event just because you can
- if you do, the website won't be effective in the long run.
7. You Want to Invite a Speaker or Trainer
If you want to invite a trainer to teach your group some much-needed
skills, or invite a speaker to fire up the general student body you can
search for a speaker.
8. You Want to Speak and do Trainings - Road Trip Time!
Perhaps the largest need in the student movement is for young people
to visit other schools to reach the most activists possible.
Go where the people are. Plan several workshops or presentations that you can
give to assist students in gaining the skills they need to be effective activists.
You might want to offer a workshop on campaign strategy, on anti-oppression, on
building a democratic group, recruitment, retention, or a particular issue. Your
school visits could be the start of a state or regional network that could hold
regular conferences, have a newsletter, email list, and fight regional campaigns.
Don't tell anyone we said it, but you might want to drop out of school or take a
year off =)
9. You Want to Start a Group
You can look at
all the groups
listed on the site to figure out what kind of group you
might want to create. Maybe there is a specific issue you care about,
or maybe you want
to create a multi-issue organization
(look for a group by issue
Maybe there is an existing national
network of groups that you want to join who will be able to provide you
with resources and advice
You can limit your search to networks
Probably there is at
least one group, if not twenty, out there that have the same goals and structure
of what you're trying to create.
To get advice on starting a group, recruiting members, structuring it, holding
meetings, picking one or more issues, and fighting strategic campaigns to win
- you might want to read an organizing guide, as you won't learn how to do this
stuff in most classes. We have organizing guides from
Student Environmental Action Coalition
Center for Campus Organzing
online, as well as
For writing your constitution and goals, starting to write it based on another
group's might be easier that starting from scratch. Maybe you want to create
a leaflet to publicize your group - maybe you'd want to model it off another
group's leaflet. (I uploaded the constitution and group leaflet for the Notre
Dame Progressive Student Alliance - hopefully others will add their's as well.)
10. You Want to Improve Your Group's Effectiveness
Read one or several organizing guides, as they are full of tips on this subject.
Also there might be materials like case studies and essays written about the
experiences of other groups that will help. Attending
a good conference
give your group members the inspiration, skills, and contacts that they'll need.
Get ambitious, pick up the
phone and call an activist listed online and ask for advice.
11. You Want to Create a Leaflet
You can look at leaflets that other people have created. Maybe there will be
written on a similar topic
and you can either edit that leaflet and use it, or borrow several of its most useful
ideas/facts. You can get graphics (clip art and pictures) that will improve the
appearance of the leaflet (Or you can get graphics once people start uploading them.).
Once you're done writing it, you can upload it to the site so that people across the
country can use it - expanding your potential audience by at least ten-fold. Better
leaflets help you educate, recruit, and win campaigns.
12. You Want to Share a Poster
your cool looking poster so that others can use it!
Many activists aren't artists and they rely upon your artwork so that we can
produce eye-catching world-changing posters.
13. You Want to Share an Image or Photo
Upload images and photos
so that we'll have an impressive online collection of graphics that folks can
use when they are creating posters, leaflets, booklets, books, info-packets,
and other materials.
14. You Want to Discuss an Issue, an Idea, an Upcoming Eevent, or
Use our online
If you want us to create a new area for your topic,
let us know and we'll do it. You can also
look for an email list
be appropriate. Or you can start your own email list and
15. You Want to Share Your Experience
Maybe your group pulled off this amazing campaign and won, or maybe
your campaign was terrible and you lost. Perhaps your group figured out
how to have productive meetings. Maybe you organized a coalition that
united all the activist groups on your campus. Maybe your group suffered
from males dominating positions of leadership until you confronted them
and solved the problem. Perhaps you wrote a paper for class or fun on
the history of student activism at your school. Whatever the case, if
you learnt something from the experience, write it up and
a text file so that others can gain from your experience.
Let's create a grassroots history of the student movement!
16. You Want to Write a Story or Paper about Student Activism
The site gives you easy access to a good assortment of activists whom you could
interview. Upload it once its done.
17. You Want to Table at an Event
If you are tabling on the street, at a protest, in a student union, or at
a conference, then you can get materials to print and distribute from this site.
18. You Work at an Infoshop or Activist Bookstore
You can find resources here to print out and distribute. Many infoshops carry
pamphlets similar to those found here.
19. You Want to Start a City, State, or Regional Network
We love you!!! Very few states have effective networks of student activists.
students have no idea of what is happening at the campus only thirty minutes away.
You could start a single-issue or multi-issue network, create an email list, a
website, publish a newsletter, organize conferences (or gatherings), and support
each other's actions.
Search for all the people and groups in the area where you
want to create the network. Contact them and build a network. You probably will
want to integrate your new network into an existing national network.
20. You Want to Join and Strengthen an Existing National Network/Organization
There are many awesome national student organizations that have only reached a
fraction of the groups that they could. There is little reason for a group not to
join at least one national network. You can choose from national groups that have
strong principles and strong national campaigns, or you can pick one that is more
decentralized with a looser set of principles that encourages local groups to
choose their own campaigns. Whatever your group is comfortable with you'll be
likely to find a national organization that suits you. Most student activist
networking and resource sharing is done through existing national organizations.
It's inspiring to be part of a larger movement.
If you are an organizer or just a regular member for a national organization,
you could use the site to recruit groups to join your organization. In general,
it is best to recruit people and groups who aren't currently affiliated with
an organization - as these are the people/groups who most need your organization,
and you don't want to be seen as stealing members from other organizations.
You can also
produced by your national organization.
This will help the students who use them, and simultaneously promote your
21. Thinking Big: You Want to Create a National Student Activist Newspaper or
A couple years ago, the Center for Campus Organizing (CCO) published 'Infusion' -
a national newspaper for progressive student activists. Unfortunately, CCO folded
and Infusion is no longer printed. Similarly in Canada there was the Student Activist
Network (SAN) which published a paper, but exists no longer. Several national groups
publish a magazine or newsletter (the Student Environmental Action Coalition and
Young Democratic Socialists produce substantial magazines), but
nobody produces a general multi-issue newspaper that tries to cover the entire
progressive student movement like CCO and SAN once did.
You could use this website to recruit people from all over the country, from
a diversity of political perspectives and regions to form a collective that
would launch the paper. You could publish it online or in newsprint. (Newsprint
can be very cheap - for $400-$600 you can print a couple thousand newspapers
-- mailing will cost extra). If
you're interested in using campusactivism.org to facilitate a newspaper,
writing a book or other material, producing a syndicated student activist
news program for college radio, or other major project - let us know how
we could help. Within the next several months, we intend to create a system
to facilitate article sharing for progressive campus alternative publications. This
will also serve as a newswire with the news headlines appearing on our homepage.
22. Thinking Big: You Want to Start a National Group/Network
Before you do this, be sure to check out to see if you don't want to join
an existing group instead. Check this site, post a query on the site's forum and
on email lists, and also search the Internet - as that will save you a lot of work.
Generally existing groups are very open to new people becoming involved. If you
are enthusiast and semi-qualified, you can easily be elected to a voluntary
leadership position. Make sure you aren't reinventing the wheel just to stroke
your own ego so that you can have 'your own' organization.
If there isn't any existing group, then if you're up for it, go ahead and create
one. Realize that it is a lot of work to start one
and even harder to keep it going. Many people spend a year or two trying to
build a national network, and then they only ever get a handful of chapters to
join. Perhaps you might want to create a national student-led student-run
organization for LGBTQ students, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, women,
or high school students. In my opinion, these constituencies are the most
lacking in strong national networks. Whereas if you'd try to start a national
student environmental or peace network - there are several that already exist.
Do outreach to groups and people who would be interested in your new
organization AND who aren't already involved in pre-existing networks.
It isn't a good idea to build your new organization by stealing members
from already organized groups - this is debatable, but arguably there
are enough groups and people who aren't involved in networks and that you
should focus your outreach on them. So if you are a creating a LGBTQ group,
you could get a list of people and groups who are interested in LGBTQ issues.
You could tell by their name, description, or website if they are already
involved in a preexisting network. If they aren't, then invite them to
form a network. You could start a discussion in a forum, start a listserv,
organize a conference, etc.
If you have additional ideas to add to this list, either things that you can
use the site for now or ideas for the future - email