Friday, September 18, 2009

Bake Sales

My club had a bake sale recently, where we raised 94 dollars to buy a goat, miracle tree, and honey bees from Oxfam America. This was a really good amount for four hours of work. But this accomplishment was somewhat dampered by the fact that clubs are no longer allowed to have bake sales. The schools main provider of food (Aramark) is saying that students are not allowed to sell any sort of food item. This sucks! Clubs depend upon selling food, because what else are students going to buy?

Aramark is making the campus very unhappy, and not just because they are banning bake sales, but also because they fail to pay fair wages to the tomato pickers of Immokalee. The workers in Immokalee get paid a very small amount, far far below minimum wage. This is happening right by our school, in a little town that everyone overlooks because it is mainly a farmworkers town. A club at our school is trying to get Aramark to work with the CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) to ensure basic human rights and dignity for the farmworkers in its supply chain, and to pay a penny more per pound for its tomatoes directly to the workers that picked them.

It is a big task to accomplish, but we must try for the sake of the livelihood of others, and I wish Angela and the other members of the Progressive Student Alliance luck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Club Meetings

I just had the first meeting for my club yesterday, and we ad nineteen people show, which is a lot for the club. I know many of them will discontinue, but maybe there will be some who are interested enough to stay, go to the events, and maybe even take a leadership position. It is my fear that there will not be anyone interested enough to want to take a leadership position, and the club will die. Who will take on the clubs mission?

There are over 10,000 students at my school, and there are only about 10-20 individuals who dedicate a lot of their time for social justice. There are probably about 100 (or less) that will go to an event or two. The 10-20 people who actually care work long hours to provide opportunities to other students to get involved in the community and world, but we never get the huge crowds that you see at basketball games or dances. I don't understand, because many of our events are very fun!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dealing with Others

As a club leader, you will have to deal with many people, from club members, other club leaders, and the various places you have to go to on campus to get things done (budget office, student involvement, student government, etc).

I came across a problem early in the semester when I noticed that the two club boxes with all our flyers, T-shirts, markers, and videos was missing. I knew that this boded ill. So we went to the people we thought were responsible, but they stated that they did not clean out the room, and that all clubs were notified to remove their stuff (needless to say, we have still not received the email). So they sent us to the department that was responsible for cleaning out the room. So we walked over and explained the situation again to a different person, who told us that the people where we had just came from were the ones that cleaned the room! So our stuff is missing, and we still do not know who to blame because nobody is claiming responsibility. You will run into these sort of situations, where people send you all over the place and nobody knows what is happening. Keep calm, and remain very polite and understanding, because these are the people you will have to deal with all year, and you want them to like you!

Occasionally you will get club members who are a little different from everyone else. There are people out there with no social skills, and some who are downright scary. DO NOT BE MEAN! Don't give them the cold shoulder or anything, because they may turn out to be your most loyal and hardworking member. Do not judge people, even though you may want to.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting People to PARTICIPATE

I have come to the conclusion that people don't want to make decisions, they just want to be told what to do.

I am a leader of a student activist club on my college campus, and have found that people will help out as long as they are told firmly what to do. So they really don't want to make decisions and come up with ideas on their own, but at the same time they feel disappointed if they are not included in the brainstorming process. The solution: have a list of ideas they can choose from, say what your favorites are and why, and they will usually lean towards what you want to do. So you can do what you want to, and the members feel like they were involved. And sometimes you will get a good group that will actually give good ideas! It always makes me happy to get input from others, because I do not know everything, and I love to learn new ways to improve.

If you are having trouble getting people to step up to the plate, then TELL them what to do. Say you are going to head this section of the event (advertising, fundraising, etc), and tell them what you expect of them. You will need to keep a close eye on them, but it will take a little weight off your shoulders. It's hard to be a leader, especially one dealing with social rights issues, because we all try to do as much as possible to save the world.

Organizing a new school year

I face the same problem many people like me face: the challenges of starting up a college school club after a summer of not doing anything club-related. It's the same thing, a rush to get the remaining officers together to mesh your schedules together to find time for meetings and events, then you have to get a few events planned before you can even have a meeting (otherwise the meeting is a complete flop and no one wants to stay in the club). Then you have to recruit members. That may be the hardest step, because most college students would rather party then volunteer at a soup kitchen. So we pass out flyers and send out facebook messages, all with the highest hopes. But then that first meeting comes, and you have a fair bit of people attend, and you think, "this isn't so bad." And then the second meeting comes, and few people come.

So what was the problem? What did you do wrong? Answer: nothing. Students have lost touch with the greater problems of the world. They don't care, some of them might think they do, but they will go volunteer once and be like "I made a difference!" and they will leave it at that.

Occasionally you will meet the people that really care, but there is a problem that you will often run into: there are more causes then people to represent those causes. I find I have many friends that are apathetic to my causes (Hunger and Homelessness), but they have causes that they care about more. So once again I find myself with very little help, just one dedicated, but very busy guy, and a few people to go to my events, but never help plan and organize. It's all a little overwhelming, but I know I am not alone in this.