Sara Nason and Arsh Harjani: Co-Founders of ResistX and Fearless Self-Organizers of Change

Recently, there has been a massive and fiery wave of ongoing protests in the nation. From the Women’s March, which was the the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history, to the almost instantaneous gathering at JFK airport in opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the people have made it clear that they refuse to be silent. In response, NYU Juniors Sara Nason and Arsh Harjani boldly took matters into their own hands, and created their very own platform, ResistX, to ensure that New Yorkers are always informed of what protests are going on, when and where.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 6.11.49 PM.png

Who: Sara Nason ‘18

Major: Individualized Concentration in Political Engagement and Attachment Theory

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

 

Who: Arsh Harjani ‘18

Major: Film and TV, Politics

Hometown: Delhi, India

HC NYU: What is the meaning behind your name, ResistX? What are some other names you initally considered?

SN: We considered Liberty Calls, Resist Text, and ResistX. Arsh actually came up with the name “Resist Text”, but I misheard it for “ResistX”. So, to choose a name, we had a mini-poll within our friends, and the consensus was ResistX. The meaning behind our name is that we are promoting information that promotes resistance of something, the ‘X’. As we spread throughout the city and across the East Coast, and hopefully later on, the West Coast, there is always something to resist. It’s building a coalition for people who are looking for information to promote progressive policy and legislators.

HC NYU: How did you two get to know each other?

AH: Through an NYU program called, Project Outreach. We kept on bumping into each other on the seventh floor of Kimmel, where most of our mutual friends spend their time at.

HC NYU: Was there a defining moment that motivated you to create your platform? 

SN: We were out at the Federal Courthouse at Cadman Plaza, protesting and supporting the ACLU to get an emergency stay. I remember turning to Arsh and saying, “We need a text service that tells us when the protests are happening.” And at the time, I didn’t think of it as something that we would actually make happen. But the next day, he messaged me saying, “Let’s do it.” So the very next night, we started sending out our first emails. It moved very quickly -- essentially instantaneous.

AH: I remember that night when we were sitting in the common room so vividly. It was absolute chaos. Sara tried to learn how to code, and my computer crashed. I also ended up spilling noodle soup on my keyboards which was great.

16809364_1360886397311473_541100752_n.jpg

HC NYU: What do you use to notify everyone about protests?

AH: Email, Twitter, Facebook, and text, the primary sources being email and Twitter. The texting service is currently in progress, and should be up real soon. The way you receive all the information is through email. It works so that in the morning  you’re emailed a summary of all the protests that are going on in the day. The tweets are updated as the day progresses, usually a few hours before the protest takes place.  

HC NYU: Where do you get all your information about ongoing protests?

AH: Our network. We’re connected to a lot of friends who are also activists and are involved with government processes too. We also search and browse the Internet ourselves. We have some key sites we go to, and we pull together all the information. We also try to always be updated on Twitter and Google Alerts.

SN: The thing is though that information always changes. Every night we are adding something. Because there are some days where no protests will be going on, and a day later there are suddenly five going on. We always have to be on top it.  

HC NYU: And do you only share protests that go on in the city?

SN: Not necessarily. We simply share protests that are publicly open to all New Yorkers. If the protest is only inviting a small community, we don’t share those because our primary goal is to deliver information to the most people that we can. If it’s selective, that kind of defeats the purpose. Because we live in such a screen age, information can be difficult to find, and so we try to condense all of the protests going on and deliver them in the least complicated form.

 

HC NYU: How many members make up your team?

SN: We’ve had lots of friends help us out. We’ve had roughly ten people involved though, including graphic designers, coders, and lawyers. Our team is looking to expand though, and so by next week it should probably be looking like 15 to 20 people.

 

HC NYU: What issues do you most closely identify with?

SN: I think for me it’s mental health. My concentration in Gallatin is political engagement and attachment theory. So it’s really how our identities are shaped, but also how we interact with the government and how it interacts with us typically in terms of mental health and wellness -- and so how policies support probably not the healthiest modalities for mental health. I think something that our society is increasingly focusing on is how mental health and trauma affect individuals on a day-to-day basis, but I don’t think it’s widespread enough of a conversation to actually be considered legitimate. That’s what I want to promote and what I’m also most passionate about.

AH: I think for me it would be health care. Mainly because I’ve seen the differences of quality and cost in two different countries, India and the US, and I’ve seen how affordable it can be. I would say specifically I’ve focused on cancer related health services. The treatment costs a lot in the United States, and I run with Relay for Life and Chemo Comfort, to help the people who are going through the process right now. When someone gets cancer, everything changes. Their lives, the lives of the people around them. When someone is going through chemo multiple times a month, they shouldn’t also have to worry about their finances as well. Diseases don’t happen by choice so why is the treatment being made into a luxury?

HC NYU: What experiences have you had protesting?

AH: As an international student from India, I’m obviously allowed to protest, but I’ve always had to be a little more cautious in case I were to get arrested, because that could seriously affect my immigration status. Over the past few months though, I’ve really started to attend more rallies. That evening, January 28th, I was sitting in my room, watching the live feed and the posts and the articles and everyone was so afraid and it was overwhelming and I felt powerless. I couldn’t just sit and do nothing. We went to Cadman and invited our friends, tried to spread the word and I think the idea that there is strength in numbers became very real to me that night.

SN: I’ve been to a numerous number of protests-- from student walkouts, the Women’s March, the rally in Battery Park, to the emergency stay protest at the ACLU. But throughout last semester, I was also involved in political campaigns and activist networks. I served as the field organizer on a State Senate campaign, and now it’s transformed to, “How do we promote the most progressive causes?”, and to me the answer is protest. The amount of solidarity people try to show by going is super important and a really powerful force to be reckoned with, which is what we’re trying to share. The more people that show up and use their voices for change, the more powerful and long term the effect will be.

16777048_1360887370644709_1873089769_o.jpg

HC NYU: How can young student activists follow your lead?

AH: Try to find a way that works for you. The diversity at NYU is not just demographic. Demonstration is only a part of activism. Be curious. Be informed. Try to find creative ways. Volunteer. If you’re an artist, your art can be a message. If you’re writer, you can write opinion pieces. There is no one, right way to stand up for what you believe in. We’re all tired of what’s been going on. The question is what we are willing to do about it.

SN: Keep talking to one another, make sure to try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and pursue your goals as if failure isn’t an option. I think what ResistX does for organizing is to create a platform in which more and more people can come together. My advice would be to start thinking of the ways to connect more people, find the gaps in the system, and create tools that you would use -- and see a use for.

HC NYU: What next steps will you be taking now? 

SN: We’re looking to start fundraising more through our GoFundMe, expanding our team, and beginning to explore opportunities with other cities. Our goal is to connect as many people as possible to information that allows them to use their voices for change.

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 9.01.19 PM.png

HC NYU: And to get to know you a little better...

Favorite Activist:

SN: Linda Sarsour

AH: Jawaharlal Nehru

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:

SN: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

AH: Coffee

Hobbies:

SN: Horseback Riding, Singing, Guitar Playing, Going to College Dems Meetings  

AH: Reading the News, Writing, Watching Netflix/Movies, Contemporary Dancing, Yoga

 

Follow Sara and Arsh on social media!

 

AH:

Facebook: Arsh Harjani

Twitter: arshharjani

Instagram: arsh_mallow  

SN:

Facebook: Sara Nason

Twitter: sara_nason

Instagram: @trisaratopthis

 

Get Involved in ResistX TODAY! 

Facebook: ResistX

Twitter: ResistXNYC

Website: Resistx.org

 

Donate to Resist X here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace is currently a junior at New York University majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. Although born in California and raised in Dallas, Texas, Grace considers Seoul, South Korea to be her home sweet home. At school, Grace serves as the Editor-In-Chief at Her Campus NYU, President at Freedom for North Korea (an issue very personal to her), and Media Director of NYU Asian Pacific American Coalition. She is currently interning at CBS Weekend News and was formerly with CNN's New York News Bureau. In her free time, Grace loves to sing jazz, run outside, read the news, go on photography excursions, and get to know people around her-- hence, her passion for conducting Her Campus profiles. She can be reached at: [email protected]

You Might Also Enjoy