Student organizing best practices

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The following content was additional insight collected from student organizers during the learning circle on navigating student turnover.

Knowledge from learning circles

Learning circle participants expressed the following thoughts on student organizing best practices...

Institutionalize involvement We've been trying to give university credits for participation in activism. We’re connecting our actions to some curriculum

One of the things we did was to target the leaders of different groups on campus (ex.: President of the Communications club). We promoted our campaign as an opportunity for these people to gain experience in organizing.

Engage with student association/student body As student executives you have a very short period of organization. There is a lack of connection between the student body and the board body. We need to hold our student representatives accountable. There is a disconnect between what the admin does, what the association does, and what the student body does. Universities are not really democratic, and student associations are not listened to enough. Students don't want to get involved in their association because they think it doesn't represent them... but to create a real student democracy and get the gains we want, we need students to invest in their association.

Get teachers to support your campaign(s) Contact your faculty's student association directly before proposing that professors support the campaign. If the association supports, it will be easier to get the information you need (for example, if there are exams during an action). If emails don't work (no response), go directly to their students during their classes (with a nice smile!)

Professors may also hold institutional memory that they can pass along to students, knowledge sharing.

Outline institutions within your school It would be helpful for groups to outline how boards, senate etc. at the university work, to provide this info for incoming members.

Get support from staff unions Go to the teachers' unions to get more support for the campaign. Also, you can talk to the unions of support staff on campus. In the case of Occupy for example, the union was in solidarity with the students, so the process of taking down tents and things occupying the space was longer.

Create solidarity with staff causes

Combine your cause with things that faculty support. Create solidarity between the student body and faculty (Divest campaigns can be tied to faculty pension funds, for example). Talk to more progressive faculty who might be able to provide insight on history of the student movement on campus


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