April 1, 2013

Workshop at Cornell Addresses ‘Social Activism’

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Correction appended

Amid a busy prelim season, about 30 sophomores from Match High School in Boston came to Cornell to participate in a workshop aimed at promoting strategies for social activism Wednesday.

Lead by representatives of Cornell student groups, the workshop addressed issues such as sexual consent and assault and focused on encouraging students to make proactive changes within their community, according to Leah Salgado ’12, the workshop leader.

Salgado founded the Every1 Campaign, an organization that teaches individuals about positive sexual experiences and their impact. She said she enlisted the help of Cornell student group “allies” and students from Match High School to hold a workshop that created a dialogue about rape and other unhealthy sex.

“We live in a society where there are many social issues that need to be solved. When you bring kids into workshops like this, you give them exposure to ideas that they may not have access to otherwise,” Salgado said. “The purpose of this workshop is to help kids understand that they already possess all the tools that they need to change the world to be activists. Through their eagerness, actions and enthusiasm, they can make proactive changes within their community.”

Other social and sexual activism groups, including Cornell University Sustainable Design, Ordinary People, Islamic Alliance for Justice and Haven — the LGBTQ Student Union — spoke at the workshop about ways in which they have promoted the concept activism within their respective clubs and the Cornell community. Marcela Cabello ’13, a representative of DREAM Cornell and MEChA, talked about how both organizations have advocated the passing of the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented students a path to citizenship.

Khamila Alebiosu ’13, the student speaker for Ordinary People, shared how developing as an activist “included learning to love myself, embrac[e] my purpose and self worth and addressing who I am.”

“Exposing these kids in such a manner is very powerful, in a sense that we are defining activism and what it means — the multifaceted and diverse forms that comprise activism today. I believe that it’s imperative to make it known that by being who you are, you are an activist. If you are okay with who you are and are expressive about it, you are an activist,” Alebiosu said.

Other student leaders agreed that activism is an act of understanding oneself and branching out to others.

Alebiosu said the workshop aimed to challenge stereotypes about sexual identity.

“With the aid of workshops like this, these kids and many others are working towards reshaping and redefining their community from within. Challenging the norms of what defines sexual identity, and creating a space and institutions in which people act with acceptance and accept each other … ultimately breaks down the taboo accompanying discussion shrouding rape and sexual consent,” Alebiosu said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote about activism to Emily Bick ’13. In fact, Bick did not say the quote.

Original Author: Jordan Jackson