Girl Up is a club dedicated to raising awareness and funds for girls education in developing countries. In high school, I was a member of a local chapter of the club, and I was given the opportunity to attend the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. From all of these experiences, I gained a lot of knowledge about issues related to girls’ education in developing countries. I learned that when women are included in the workforce, the economy of a developing country improves significantly. Furthermore, giving girls official birth certificates allows them to be enrolled in schools. Not only a national movement, this movement is important to the U.S. specifically. Former First Lady Michelle Obama started a campaign called Let Girls Learn related to the movement. As a result of the efforts of Let Girls Learn and Girl Up members and activists, the U.S. Congress passed the Girls Count Act. This law helps ensure that girls in developing countries are registered at birth.
On the other hand, the students at the University of Delaware do not seem as motivated about this movement as other movements. There are not many clubs centered around promoting education in developing regions. Instead of looking at this as a negative, we can use it as motivation to encourage students to gather together to support this movement. Furthermore, this cause is easy to support because fundraisers are easy to plan. Organizations such as Girl Up take the money raised by fundraisers and do the grassroots work themselves, making it easy for anyone, anywhere to get involved. Lastly, as college students, we understand the importance of getting a quality education. Therefore, we are motivated to raise money and awareness for education in places where education is lacking. In summary, my group should focus on the movement for bringing education opportunities to girls in third-world countries because the University of Delaware does not have many similar clubs, it is easy to support, and it is relatable for college students.
Since my movement took place in the 1960s (Anti-Vietnam War), the online platform was not a part of this movement. The internet was being invented around the same time that this movement was gaining support and strength, so the supporters of the movement had to find another way to spread their message. As I was doing research, I discovered that a big way that this anti-war movement spread and caught attention was through music. Since online platforms like Twitter, Facebook, news sites, etc. didn’t exist to spread a mass message quickly and to a lot of people, many popular artists spread the word through their songs. Some examples of these artists are Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon. Many of these artists were prominent figures and constantly had attention from the press as well, which also helped to spread their message.
This particular movement has ended, but there have been many other peace protests and anti-war protests since then, such as the anti-Iraq War demonstrations. Since this movement has ended, I think the purpose of my website will be more to provide information about this historical movement more than trying to get people to join a particular movement/belief. In order to portray a comprehensive view of this movement, I want to incorporate a lot of media into my website. I’m planning to embed multiple videos of popular anti-war songs so the audience can see how music was used heavily as a political tool at the time. It’s quite different to the way music is now. I’m also going to map out this movement in a timeline with pictures so the audience can easily visualize the process of the anti-Vietnam War movement. My website will also include multiple pages focusing on different parts of the movement (Purpose, About, Cause, etc.) so that the information is well-organized and easy to browse through. WordPress also has a helpful tool called Text Widget which allows you to add text or HTML to the sidebar of your site. I was thinking I could use this tool to add links to related resources or links to my other pages.
Although the online platforms were not used at the time of this movement, I can use the accessibility and interactivity of online platforms in order to inform my audience of this particular movement in history.
After researching the mental health movement and starting to build my website, I’ve realized just how important online platforms are. Specifically with the mental health movement on college campuses, and the need to create a welcoming space for all, an online platform reaches people who may be struggling in silence. Online pages allow shy people or those ashamed of their struggle to step out, voice their opinions, and get help.
The organization that I want to focus my website on is Active Minds (and their chapters at universities across the country) because they have a large online platform. This platform includes their website and various social media pages like Facebook and Twitter. Active Minds uses their social media pages to post quotes, messages, videos, and links to articles in the hopes of educating all about mental health and the need to destigmatize it. This is an effective way of getting the message out because college students are used to scrolling through their social media news feeds and seeing pictures, quotes, and articles to browse. I want to post similar links and pictures on my website homepage, because they are both relatable and will capture the attention of viewers, leading them to further discover my website. The Active Minds website is easy to navigate due to its site map, which gives links to the website’s main features like the homepage, the organization’s background, media, and information on the current chapters. This layout is helpful for viewers on the Active Minds website because they can easily find out why and when the organization was established (2003) as well as how to get involved under the “take action” tab. The “take action” tab includes an interactive map that shows which universities have a current chapter, including UD.
I want my website to be utilize organized tabs on the homepage and include many links, making it easy and enjoyable to explore. I wish to emulate the Active Mind’s website by including the story of how they were established/their mission, along with mental health statistics on college campuses under an “about” tab which can be found directly on the homepage. I also want to include a “why” tab which discusses why it’s important to accept mental illness for what it is and stop making it this unspeakable issue which deters people from getting help. I will also include a “how you can help” tab which lists the many chapters that exist across the country as well as the necessary contact info. In contrast to the Active Minds website, I wish to include shorter bursts of information/bullet points rather than long paragraphs because college viewers prefer quick information, and will be more likely to continue to explore my website if they are attracted immediately.
For Friday, we’re going to be talking about gender, sex, and advocacy on the college campus. Read this article from Harvard’s newspaper about the choice to regulate clubs along with this response about the difficulties posed by regulations. Next, take a look at this article about a Columbia protest of sexual assault and another take on the protest and the woman behind it.
Take notes and be ready to discuss these articles and the concepts of gender on the college campus on Friday.
Advocacy, to me, is the power of having my voice be heard as a collective voice that speaks for those who have been silenced. While one voice alone may seem small and weak amidst the voice or actions of the opposition, it has the power to ignite a change and act as an impetus for the beginning of a larger movement. A wildfire cannot start without an initial spark, and that spark is the power of just one or two voices. When I think of movements, I generally think of protests, marches, sit-downs, and the introduction of newfound social and political justice. I also think of the unyielding power of group-thought and hundreds or thousands of people standing together to fight for a common cause. Personally, I am greatly interested (and have even been involved) in movements that advocated against sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses across America. Some examples of the anti-sexual assault movements have occurred at various universities such as the protests against rape at Syracuse University in 2014, the mattress carrying at Columbia University as a response to the sexual assault of student Emma Sulkowicz (“Carry That Weight”), and the marches at Dartmouth College that aided in the implementation of new school-wide sexual violence mandates. Although I am also interested in other movements, such as the Gay Rights and Marriage Equality movement and the recent Women’s March on Washington, the anti-rape movement is the closest to my heart and the movement that I have been most diligently following since it’s inception. I see many, many benefits from this movement, such as the implementation of more harsh consequences for sexual offenders, support groups for those who have been affected by sexual violence, and the mandates of anti-sexual violence education classes on campus. A challenge to this movement that I can imagine will continue to be a challenge moving forward is the stigma that surrounds sexual assault. Many women (and men) are afraid to report a sexual assault because they are afraid that they will be victim blamed and there will only be scarlet letter shame for them instead of justice. This is why many victims internalize the pain and post traumatic stress that comes after sexual assault instead of talking about it to a professional or reporting it to police. However, I hope that through the continued push of the movement, this stigma will be mitigated, and victims will not be afraid to speak out, while offenders will be rightly punished.
For class on Friday, do some exploration on the Generation Progress website. We’re going to be talking in class about issues pertinent to college campuses and potential movements for you to research for your first project, so getting familiar with some issues that are featured on this website is a good place to start. Keep in mind that this isn’t the be all end all of campus activism, but it should give you some ideas. You can also poke around in other places to help you begin to brainstorm what movement to research for the Mapping the Movement project.
Remember that your first blog post is due Friday at 11!