As young people in college who are studying and preparing to become the next generation of active members of society, advocacy is one of the most important skills that you can learn and apply to your education and campus involvement. Some people experience disadvantages, lack equal opportunity, and face discrimination based on their socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
If you are a college student and looking for ways to make a change, here are some ways that you can get involved on your college campus to advocate for equity and instigate progress within your community to ensure that all individuals are guaranteed the opportunity for success and a healthy social, academic, and workplace environment while embracing their identities and the diversity that they bring to the community.
Get Involved with Student Government
The first activity that I enrolled in when I arrived at college was the undergraduate student government. After going through an interview and application process, I had the honor of being selected as a member of the University of Missouri’s First Year Council. Not only did I make friends and feel closer to my community, but I was able to build my leadership skills, get further involved in student government, develop professional connections that led to internships and part-time positions, and advocate for the students to create a better college experience for everyone on campus.
Through my student government, I had the honor of meeting with various members of my university’s administration to discuss ways to benefit the student wellbeing on campus. I felt that I could amplify the voices of students on campus by voting on legislation and policies that the students create.
Oftentimes, student government can be overlooked by many students. If you’re interested in the legislative lens of advocacy through policymaking as a student, I encourage you to reach out to a member of your undergraduate student government! I guarantee that your student government would love to have you get involved.
Listen, Learn, and Educate
One of the easiest ways for injustice to occur is when people refuse to listen or believe people courageously speaking about their experiences. Some people may feel uncomfortable by talking about social justice issues, which can lead to shutting down, reacting inappropriately, or refusing to believe the person speaking. Not only are these harmful ways to deal with serious topics, but it can worsen the issue and deeply hurt the people that are advocating for better treatment.
It’s important to recognize that remaining ignorant to contemporary issues is not going to create any progress or help anyone, and the wellbeing and prosperity of others is the most important thing when it comes to maintaining or developing a healthy community. It serves as a benefit to everyone when you listen to others when they’re speaking about their experiences, learn from what others have to say, and educate yourself on important topics that need advocacy. Another way that you can advocate through educating is by correcting peers, family, and friends if you're hearing hurtful or unjust language being used.
Attend a Rally or Protest
Some outlets that you can use to stay updated with upcoming rallies, protests, or gatherings are social media, student media, local newspapers, and flyers posted around campus. If you notice an issue on your campus, don’t be afraid to be a leader and organize your own rally or protest! On-campus clubs and organizations often are involved with rallies and protests, so you can always communicate with an on-campus organization to help arrange one. This is a great way to raise awareness by getting your peers actively involved in solving problems that are negatively impacting your community.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re unfamiliar or unsure of how to respond or help someone, you can never go wrong with responding with empathy and humanity. Advocacy is one of the best ways to give back to your community. Living in this world is a group effort, and advocacy is the price that you must pay to be a part of the team.
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