Seniors Gabe Conway and Liz Palmer have seen a need to teach activism and spread inclusivity throughout campus. They plan to help fulfill this demand by creating a new student organization, the Valpo Student Organizing Committee. Inspired by recent events as well as what they have seen on campus, they decided it was time to give marginalized students- such as minority and LGBTQIA+ students- and allies a platform to help make an impact at a community, national and global level.
“As the events with the Black Lives Matter movement have happened more, I realized this was a very opportune time to start something like this. People are really fired up and want to be involved. People want to know how they can do more and actively feel like they are doing more, which is why I thought this would be the perfect time to really get this out there and make it happen,” Conway said.
When initially forming the organization, Conway and Palmer were careful to try and make their organization relevant, while also seeming genuine.
“We had to figure out how to make it not seem performative because we are two white women putting it together. In that sense, we wanted to be really careful about how the organization is represented and that students can feel like they have a space there,” Palmer said.
After weeks of preparing, Conway and Palmer set their plan into motion by making their intentions public on June 19. They launched the new organization’s instagram and posted a survey that would help them to gather information about problems involving inclusion on campus. This survey asks questions encouraging students to share their stories while maintaining anonymity. In particular, they wanted to put an emphasis on respecting students’ experiences.
“We wanted to respect that the holes in Valpo’s community can produce a lot of trauma and we didn’t want to ask people to just send in their trauma because that could be an issue in itself. So, we had to be really careful about that. As a communications major, I’ve had training in how to put together stuff like that to make sure that it is inclusive, to make sure that it gets across the message that we wanted it to get across,” Palmer said.
Palmer and Conway plan to use their survey as an initial way to spot some of the worst and prominent problems on campus, that way they have a solid place to start once the fall semester begins.
“We really want to use this information to at least have a basis for starting the group because it’s hard to organize a group when you don’t know what you’re organizing around,” Conway said.
Conway and Palmer already have goals and plans in mind for their organization. They hope to address problems on campus that are either being overlooked by administration and Student Senate or not being addressed well enough. They also plan on engaging in politics and movements both on and off campus through activism.
According to Conway, the organization would also like to plan workshops for students who want to learn more about activism and social movements.
“Workshops to teach our members effective organizing tactics. We have a lot of students who are really excited and want to be involved with social justice and movements on campus, but don’t always have the background or knowledge on how to effectively organize as students on campus in order to make our voices heard,” Conway said.
However, the most important goal of the organization is to give marginalized students a platform where their voices can be heard.
“This entire thing will be centered on uplifting the voices of marginalized groups on campus. So, all of our efforts will be directed on hearing from those who it is actually impacting,” Conway said.
Currently, Conway and Palmer are in the beginning stages of creating the Valpo Student Organizing Committee. To do this, they need to gather members, find a faculty advisor, and create a constitution. Then, they can submit their organization for Student Senate approval.
Until they achieve Student Senate approval, to support this group or for any further questions and updates, follow their instagram @vustudentorganizing or contact Gabe Conway at email@example.com.