College campuses are ground zero for the inception of new social movements and the catalyst for societal change.
College doesn’t have to be a place where you just take classes. It is your best opportunity to learn about yourself and contextualize your interests within the wider world. Let’s face it: As our most recent government shutdown shows, the world isn’t going to fix itself. If you’re interested in promoting change, there are a number of political organizations on campus where you can make a difference.
Black United Students, for example, has a rich legacy with Kent State. Founded in 1968, BUS is the first and oldest organization on campus to serve as a unifying force for the African-American population. BUS was instrumental in the construction of Oscar Ritchie Hall, home of the Department of Pan-African Studies. In 1969, BUS proposed to extend “Negro History Week” to Black History Month at Kent State University, making it the first student organization in the country to make this proposal. Today, BUS hosts annual events, including the Renaissance Ball and the Ebony Achievement Awards, which acknowledges the talents and accomplishments in the black community.
Kent State recently founded a branch of Young Democratic Socialists of America, which — like the national parent organization — is far more than just a movement focused on spreading the ideas of democratic socialism. According to their mission statement, YDSA seeks “social change which extends democracy into all aspects of life — social, political and economic.” Their vision of socialism is “profoundly democratic, feminist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and intersectional.”
From protesting against neo-Nazis and the alt-right, to simply offering free brake light changes to the public, YDSA acts as a vehicle for true democracy, working to foster solidarity between working class people of all races, genders and sexualities. YDSA’s mission is to educate and organize students and to play a helpful role in the movement for social justice. Currently, they are involved in an educational campaign to raise awareness about Medicare for All and single-payer healthcare systems. YDSA meets on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in room 316 of the Student Center.
Students for Justice in Palestine is a culturally and educationally-focused political group that seeks to educate students and faculty about the history of Palestine and its current situation. Their purpose is to raise awareness within the Kent community on issues pertaining to the Palestinian people. SJP advocates for Palestinian rights, as well as justice and equality for all oppressed people around the world. They host a wide range of educational, cultural and solidarity events. They meet Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in room 315 of the Student Center.
This is just a tiny sample of the vast multitude of different organizations on campus. I’d encourage you to keep your eyes open. Search for clubs that expand your horizon and work to make the world a better place. After all, this is why you came to college.
Joseph Langan is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]