Freedom Fighters At CSUF

By Janica Torres and Elizabeth Tovar

The fight for freedom is forged on many fronts through different community student activist organizations on campus. Tusk met up for Q&As with the presidents of six student organizations at CSUF who are leading the charge for change.

Bethany Whittaker, Black Student Union (BSU)

Can you describe your organization and what it does?

The Black Student Union stands as an advocate for Black students, faculty, and staff to ensure our betterment on campus. We also serve as a voice of social justice for the Black community.

What does activism entail for your community?

We hold events that build communal spaces for Black students on campus since we’re shy of just 2 percent here. BSU has events such as Black Student Welcomes and the Pan-Afrikan Fair. This year we hosted the annual Afrikan Black Coalition Conference.

Why is it important for coalition and solidarity among other activist student organizations?

We can’t do anything without each other. We won’t get anywhere fighting by ourselves, so having that cohesiveness among our organizations makes the fight we’re fighting so much easier.

Brenda Heredia, Diversity Resilience Education Access Movement Cooperation (D.R.E.A.M. Co-Op)

Can you describe your organization and what it does?

D.R.E.A.M. Co-Op is all about advocating and supporting the undocumented community. We provide a safe space for undocumented students and allies from all ethnic backgrounds to fight for undocumented rights.

What does activism entail for your community?

Our activism involves educating about our rights and sharing our stories to have our concerns heard. We host DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) workshops and an event called Migration is Beautiful.

Why is it important for coalition and solidarity among other activist student organizations?

We’re all fighting for our freedom. When we collaborate with other organizations, we each bring our knowledge and experiences, and we get to learn from each other and grow together.

Elisabeth Alvarado, Inter-Tribal Student Council (ITSC)

Can you describe your organization and what it does?

We’re a safe space and the only place on campus for Native students to gather and meet other indigenous folks to see what we share in common and learn about our differences among tribes.

What does activism entail for your community?

Our motto is: “We’re still here.” So promoting our presence on campus and representing our culture authentically through events and outreach is very important to us because oftentimes, our community gets forgotten or misrepresented in the media. 

Why is it important for coalition and solidarity among other activist student organizations?

We are stronger as a collective unit. When we unite in coalition to build understanding and promote our connected missions, we can get more done. There’s power in numbers.

 Elsie Venegas, Queer & Trans People of Color Collective (QTPOCC)

Can you describe your organization and what it does?

We focus on activism and education about being a person of color who identifies within the queer and trans community, to discuss the intersectionality of our various identities.

What does activism entail for your community?

We do a lot of educational pieces examining identity, as well as current and political events on and off campus. We host Queer Prom and attend QTPOCC conferences each year.

Why is it important for coalition and solidarity among other activist student organizations?

We all cohabit each other’s space on campus. It’s important that we maintain connected and form a unified front to support each other and back each other up when the need arises.

Joshua Fatahi, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

Can you describe your organization and what it does?

We’re a national student organization whose mission is to spread awareness of the injustice and human rights violations going on in Palestine and counter the problematic coverage in America.

What does activism entail for your community?

Most of the work SJP does is informing folks on what’s going on in Palestine through outreach, workshops, and the wall event we do each year. We also push for boycott, divestment, and sanction as a way to pressure Israel to guarantee the human rights of Palestinians.

Why is it important for coalition and solidarity among other activist student organizations?

All our struggles are deeply interconnected and all these oppressive structures that we face intersect. We need to understand that we are connected and stronger together, so building coalition is crucial to our collective freedoms.

RJ Abesamis, Bayanihan Kollective (BK)

Can you describe your organization and what it does?

We’re a community organization that does social justice work in the Pilipinx community both locally and in the Pilipinas.

What does activism entail for your community?

We build community, which involves reconnecting with our Pilipinx culture and history. We educate about what’s going on in the Pilipinas and we mobilize by getting involved with other organizations.

Why is it important for coalition and solidarity among other activist student organizations?

It’s vital cause of the way systems of oppression work to isolate our different groups to keep us down. But when we coalitionize, we become a stronger force for change. If we’re going to take down interlocking systems of oppression, we need to be interlocked as well.

 

One thought on “Freedom Fighters At CSUF

  • February 5, 2020 at 6:07 pm
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    LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! Highlighting active student leaders is so important and I am so happy to see these incredible, hardworking individuals getting the recognition they deserve. Representation matters! Black and POC visibility matters!

    Reply

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