Activism Forum Gives Students a Voice

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Throughout history, the spoken word has proven to be one of the most powerful tools used to seize attention that will not only stir up change, but also combat injustices within the local community and worldwide.

Recently, members of the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), the Student Association for Global Awareness (SAGA), and the Justice Coalition, have come together to create a Student Activism Forum, with the intention to promote social awareness and to educate those who are willing to listen.

Freddy Moncada, a Latin American Studies major and an active member of ALAS, SAGA, and the Justice Coalition, along with student activist Jo Takarabe, have created the Student Activism Forum. The Student Activism Forum looks to heavily stress the importance of expression and social awareness.

Moncada believes that the students on campus have a responsibility to not only express their beliefs, but to also educate, inform, and help encourage those students toward making the campus and the local communities better for all.

The idea of creating an activism forum stemmed from numerous discussions between Moncada and Takarabe, who both agreed that there was a desperate need for expression on campus.

Although the forum is relatively new, the first one on March 16, proved to be a success.

“There were students very eager to express themselves who also had very good ideas for the next [forum],” said Moncada.

The event featured speakers representing ALAS, like Ariel Torres, who encouraged action through the involvement in student organizations and placed an emphasis on the importance of expression, especially in a time when “our government seems to be more set on war.”

Manny Bracamonte spoke out about the continuous prejudices that many Latino youths experience due to the color of their skin and their appearance.

Bracamonte displayed his talents in the art of graffiti by showing the student body some of his artwork. He also expressed his concerns about prejudice through a recitation of one of his poems, titled “My Grandfather’s Last Words.”

“Graffiti is more than just tagging, it’s about making a statement, political or not, and this forum is about just being able to let our voices be heard,” said Bracamonte.

There were about 25 students present at the first Student Activism Forum, among them some students who are already involved within the community and in student organizations.

However, there were a few attendees that were new to this type of event and yet, still, had a positive experience.

“I would definitely take part in something like this again,” said Ariana Escobar. “I especially like the family atmosphere that the forum created.”

Moncada and Takarabe are planning bigger things for the Student Activism Forum. They not only want to cater to those students who express themselves through the spoken word, but would like for students to participate by voicing their opinions, concerns and beliefs through dance, music and art.

Some students who attended the forum suggested taking future forum events outside to Plaza Vaquero.

Currently there are plans to have activism forums of this kind at least once a month within each semester. Students are strongly encouraged to participate and take action.

SAGA meets on Mondays from noon to 1 p.m. in LB 223, the Justice Coalition meets on Tuesday in LB 200 from noon to 1 p.m., and ALAS meets Thursdays from noon to 1p.m. in LB 225.

“If you want to tell us anything that we don’t know, feel free because, we want to inspire each other,” says Moncada.