On Saturday, January 28, 2017, OIED’s campus community centers (the GLBT Center, Women’s Center, Multicultural Student Affairs and African American Cultural Center) hosted the third annual Social Justice January. This year’s event was a day-long student activism workshop facilitated by two representatives from Training for Change, a national organization devoted to capacity building for social change. The retreat was attended by 26 students representing a diverse range of communities on campus as well as 9 staff members from the four centers.
The retreat was designed to be a skill-building workshop to help students develop the capacity to form cross-community coalitions that can collectively advocate for change. The workshop also taught students how to identify specific goals they want to accomplish, choose the most appropriate strategies for achieving those goals and plan a campaign for change that allows them to work through successive steps in the change process.
Of the 26 students who attended the workshop, 79% strongly agreed and 21% agreed that the workshop increased their self-awareness about strengths they can use for social justice organizing and activism, 75% strongly agreed and 25% agreed that the workshop helped them learn how to organize an activism campaign and 75% strongly agreed and 25% agreed that the workshop increased their ability to work collaboratively with other students to create change.
Students also had the opportunity to provide qualitative feedback on the retreat. Some of the key aspects of the workshop that students felt were the most important takeaways included:
- learning how to use “anger and passion for social change in a more constructive manner”
- the “importance of critically thinking about the sequence of tactics employed to encourage the key individuals that hold the power to implement the change you want to see”
- how “to use leverage points to make change”
- the “power of being intentional” and of “pushing pressure points.”
In describing how they plan to use what they learned at the retreat, students commented:
- “I will try better to strategize and campaign for disability justice, LGBTQ justice and issues affecting people of color.”
- “I will advocate for more Native American faculty at NC State.”
- “I will encourage more language translation in NC admissions, public information and MSA public events.
Renee Wells is director of the GLBT Center.