Students to take a 'stand' this week

  • Stand Up
    Stand Up  William & Mary students will take a stand this week for the issues that are important to them as part of the College's annual Stand Up Campaign.  Photo by Roshan Patel '08
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William & Mary students will take a stand this week for the issues that are important to them as part of the College’s annual Stand Up Campaign.

The third annual campaign, sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, encourages students to speak out about social justice issues -- like hunger, affordable housing and diversity -- through a variety of events on campus Feb. 20-24.

“What I love about the Stand Up Campaign is that it features so many different voices and approaches to making change, highlighting what our campus is already doing while challenging all of us to consider what we stand for,” said Elizabeth Miller ‘11, coordinator for student & community engagement. “Having an entire week of events allows the campus to raise its own consciousness and plug in to the change we want to see in our community.”

The campaign will kick off with what has become its most noted and visible event:  students literally standing up – on boxes and plastic milk crates – and talking about their causes.  The students may be seen and heard on Monday as well as Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Crim Dell.

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Other events offered throughout the week include a privilege workshop and lunch, a discussion about social entrepreneurship, a celebration of W.E.B. DuBois’ birthday, a discussion about service and religious traditions, an affordable housing forum, and an evening of gratitude with community partners.

“Students taking the lead to stand on boxes, host forums, start conversations, raise awareness and make this campaign happen each year is inspiring and speaks to their commitment to active citizenship.,” said Miller.

Kiara Savage ’13, who uses the campaign to speak out about education inequality, said that the annual event “is a great opportunity to educate our community about social issues that exist right here in Williamsburg and to connect students to opportunities to get involved.”

“So many of us come to William and Mary thinking Williamsburg is a small town of affluence made up of retired residents,” she said. “Behind the facade, however, we soon discover that poverty exists here; education inequality exists here; general social inequalities exist here. As students we are a large and influential part of the Williamsburg population. It behooves us to know what is going on around us in the place we call home for three-fourths of a year.”

Some students got an early start on this year’s Stand Up campaign by filming short videos about the issues they care about for the Speak Up Campaign, which launched during the fall semester. The videos may be seen on the campaign’s YouTube channel.

In addition to its usual events, the Stand Up campaign will include a “self-care” component for the first time this year.

“It is the serving nature of the Tribe that I love most about our school. Sometimes, however, I wonder about how much we are serving ourselves with self-care,” said Savage.

The self-care events during the week include a free yoga class, tea time in Swem Library, and an interactive workshop hosted by the William & Mary Counseling Center.

“I am strong believer in the notion that we need to be taking care of ourselves mentally and physically in order to best serve others,” said Savage. “Passion is the energy we need to make change and it must be protected and preserved through self-care. I hope that by attending these events participants will start to reflect on the importance of taking care of themselves and making sure those around them are taking care of themselves. Additionally, I hope our events motivate people to plan ways to incorporate more self-care in their daily lives.”

This week’s Stand Up Campaign comes on the heels of the Active Citizens Conference, which took place Feb. 17 and 18 at William & Mary. The conference aimed to “unite, educate and inspire active citizens and social innovators.” The event, which was attended by more than 200 students, faculty members and community partners, featured such noted speakers as Robert Egger, the president and founder of DC Central Kitchen, and George Srour, a William & Mary alumnus who founded Building Tomorrow.

For more information on this year’s Stand Up Campaign and other community engagement opportunities at the College, visit: http://www.wm.edu/offices/oces/index.php.