Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality fueled by non-violent, social and political change has inspired students on campus to work for their beliefs through the same means.
Student organizations such as the Revolutionary Student’s Union (RSU), the Peace and Justice Studies Club and the UVU Latin American Club, allow students to be actively involved in achieving their own dreams.
The RSU’s protest during the immigration debate in November is one of many examples of activism on campus.
“Sometimes people read the word activism as though it is a synonym for protest, and not all forms of activism should be protests,” said Dr. Michael Minch, associate professor of Humanities/Philosophy.
He mentioned that it is not good enough to state what you are against, you have to articulate what you are for, and then you have to work toward achieving that. He said that it is at this time that the word activism truly applies; because you need to be active in obtaining what you think is right.
“Activism has been misunderstood to sound radical or even irreverent; however, the opposite is true,” said student activist, Nick Belnap. “Activism is passionate people working towards something they believe strongly in.” Minch also mentioned that there are other ways besides student clubs in which students can be active. He gave the example of High Road for Human Rights, which is an organization in which many students are involved.
UVU has a history of student groups that have worked toward making a difference for what they believe in, such as the Anti-slavery Student Club and the Anti-pornography Club, among others.
Minch said that students often say they are too busy to be active in change, so they will do it after college. However, there are students that have been able to find a way to make a difference. For example, Gregory Haddock is a student activist who has worked on setting up the Restorative Justice and Death Penalty Symposium as well as the protest against Representative Sandstrom’s bill on immigration.
“I don’t know that I am ‘so’ active. I probably don’t do enough. Few of us do, but I try to make social issues a priority in spite of a busy school and work schedule,” Haddock said.
“I am active because I believe we all have an obligation to help those who are in need by virtue of our humanity,” said student activist Aaron Wood.
There are a number of clubs that create a place where students can do just that, but students are not limited to only those, there are also many organizations in the community that are socially/politically active as well.
Additionally, faculty members are working on internships and study abroad programs to places such as Haiti, Uganda, Nepal and many others in order to provide students with experiences that will motivate them to be actively involved locally, globally and at every level in order to change things that they perceive as incorrect.
As King’s dream lives on to further students’ dreams, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Advisory Board commends those students who are actively pursuing their views and encourages those who are not involved to re-imagine King’s dream and open their minds to the many opportunities available to affect change.