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The activities were part of the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship’s first-ever “Stand Up Campaign,” which used public spaces to convey messages of social activism and community engagement to the College’s students.
"Through the Stand Up Campaign, many students were able to use their voices, thoughts, time and actions to stand up for what matters to them, said Melody Porter, assistant director of OCES. “They spoke out against sexual violence, thanked living icons from the civil rights era for their courage and sacrifice, made a dent in invasive species growth on campus - and they learned about the many ways people incorporate community engagement into their lives."
According to Allison Anoll, VISTA for student and community engagement, the campaign had four central goals: to reach students not traditionally involved in service, expand students’ conception of what service is, join the current service community together and get the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship’s name out to the campus community.
“The Stand Up Campaign is designed to challenge existing definitions of service, connect our current service community and reach new and diverse students who might be interested in community engagement.,” said Anoll.
The week of activities kicked off on Monday, Feb. 22, which was dubbed “Take a Stand Day.” On that day, students stood on top of boxes outside of the Campus and Sadler Centers and talked about issues that were important to them.
On Tuesday, Campus Kitchens sponsored a brown bag discussion with JaLauna Richardson, assistant manager for public housing in Williamsburg, who talked about housing, poverty and homelessness. Also on Tuesday, volunteers hung posters around the campus featuring leaders in social justice throughout the world.
Additionally on Tuesday and through Wednesday, the William & Mary NAACP and the Kappa Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. hosted a letter writing campaign to the living leaders of the civil rights movement.
At the end of the week, student service organizations participated in an activities fair, and volunteers posted flyers and banners around the campus featuring quotes on service and statistics on poverty and injustice. On Friday evening, OCES and Interfaith co-sponsored a showing of a documentary about the effort for peace following the Liberian civil war. The movie was followed by a discussion on various religions’ missions of love, mercy and service.
The week culminated in a day of service on Sunday, during which students assisted with the removal of invasive plants on campus. After the service projects, the students participated in a discussion on diversity, academics and activism as part of service.
The idea for the campaign grew out of a challenge that OCES faced when it was created last August in a merger between the Office of Volunteer Services and the Sharpe Community Scholars Program.
“In taking a new name, and also in the refining of our mission, we were facing the problem that students simply didn't know what OCES was,” said Anoll. “Even if they knew what the acronym stood for, they weren't familiar with our purpose. Many of the students who were dedicated to our separate offices before the merge easily transitioned, but we wanted to reach new, diverse groups of students on campus. This was the beginning of the Stand Up Campaign and since then it has grown in purpose.”
Drew Stelljes, director of community engagement, said he was very happy with how the week turned out.
“The Stand Up Campaign is yet another example of the capacity building efforts that our VISTA's work so hard to achieve,” he said. “I could not be more pleased with Allison Anoll's vision and leadership.”