HerCampus x Students For Change Interview

Edited By: Vlada Taits

How is it already March!? This year has gone by so fast already! Luckily, I had the opportunity to speak with a member of the Students for Change Organization at the University of Toronto. Students For Change is an organization that focuses on women's rights, gender equality, empowerment, education, and more!

 Here's how it went:

1. Let's start with your name, your position at Students for Change, and why you choose to start/get into the Students for Change organization at UofT.

My name is Daphne, I'm currently in my fourth year at UofT! My major is Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology with a double minor in Professional Writing & Sociology. I am one of two communication executives for the club. I chose to get involved in Students for Change due to my interest in not only equality but more so gender equity. I have learned a lot about social justice in the past few years and wanted to try to make an impact by taking action and joining a group of students with a passion for activism. 

 

2.The name “Students for Change” is bold! What can students who want to join this organization expect? What can they do to help promote and make a change? 

I think people looking to join the organization can expect an equally bold and passionate group of people! Our club has so many amazing members whose views are intrinsically aligned! But our organization is extremely supportive of everyone, inclusivity is truly the main objective. We constantly want students to feel welcome and always allow our differences to connect us. Students wanting to join are always welcome, we are constantly looking for people to join our community! 

I think people can promote and make change firstly through whole-hearted education. Learning is one the most powerful tools of advocacy. Without knowledge on a topic, there is no way to gain a holistic understanding of it, without learning about inequalities there is no way to make a change and fight those inequalities. We must educate ourselves, and clubs like Students for Change are a great place to start. We post a lot of resources, fundraise, and work to gain more traction on topics such as intersectional feminism!

 

3. The Students for Change organization’s outline says it is a “gender-equity focused club that advocates for the rights of women and gender minorities, with an emphasis on equal access to education, leadership opportunities, and empowerment.” That is super empowering and entails pretty meaningful work. Why do you think it’s as important to shed light on this issue within the university space/setting? 

I think it's extremely important especially in a sector where women have not always been welcome. Women have historically had such barriers hinder them from equal and fair treatment in educational settings, so I think as women it is important to recognize and appreciate how far we have come due to our predecessors. Obviously, we can always work on more, such as our club outline says we are constantly seeking equal access to things like education, leadership opportunities, and empowerment, which is often a struggle even in this more and more progressive world. I think that is truly why it is so important to shed light on the issues within universities where we had and continue to have to advocate for the rights of many diverse sets of women, coming from such unique backgrounds. Hopefully one day through gender-equity we can all be equal, but for now, our club aims to provide education by using our platform within the university club system and bringing awareness to the cause by way of advocacy. 

 

4.Many universities and schools have shifted learning in the digital space, extracurricular and club activities are shifting as well. What do you think are the potential challenges for this club online and how do you/will you overcome them? Have you done anything to communicate effectively in the digital presence? 

I think some of our potential challenges for this club online is just engaging people who are tired of virtually communicating. I think often students spend a majority of their days on zoom calls for classes, doing their work, or even communicating with their friends via technology, and it can be a bit overwhelming especially in a pandemic. People often now try to limit their screen time due to spending most of their waking hours online for school so this has been a challenge with students not necessarily engaging as much as they would if things were physically held. The whole virtual thing can seem redundant to students who often sit in the same space all day and an online event can be viewed as less appealing due to the characteristics of everyday life now. But our club is working to make events more fun such as trivia nights, asynchronous events, and even yoga events to promote wellbeing. For our active events such as yoga, we see more engagement due to students wanting to spend their time online to destress and turn off for a bit rather than doing something a bit more mentally challenging. Events like these seem to be more fun due to students moving from their stagnant sitting positions. Overall I think adapting to our events helps us overcome challenges the digital barriers present. 

Within our club communication is central so having things like slack channels to organize our members and sections of the club is especially important. The organization is key with everything being online. Outside of our club communication, the digital space is efficiently used by posting on social media in a constant, but not overbearing way. We update multiple times a week, but more than activism we also shed light on mental health, current issues, special events happening around the city/world, and obviously our events. By diversifying our feed and content we are able to communicate more efficiently within our digital presence.   

5. What is your most rewarding experience in the Student for Change organization at UofT? 

The most rewarding experience in Students for Change is being associated with such a great club/people and meeting so many amazing members whose views are so similar to mine. Through the club, we have found so many commonalities within our lives and interests which makes the whole exec team mesh together so well! Everyone is truly so hardworking and working with people so like-minded is an exciting experience. That would probably be the most rewarding experience, having such a great team I’m able to collaborate with!

6. Are there any projects or plans that your organization is looking forward to this coming school year? Please share it with us!

We have a few projects and events coming up! The two main projects we have been released this semester are our art-based reflection projects! This is super exciting because one of our first-year representatives is putting it together so none of us have seen it yet, but we are all extremely excited to! The second project we have been released in late March is our 2021 Zine!!! This is a huge focus for the latter part of the semester and we are so excited to get submissions for this. If you or anyone you know is interested in submitting poetry, art, writing, or really anything that is expressive of our theme of resiliency please do!!! Additionally, we have a few other plans for events coming up in the next few weeks such as a doc and talk and another workshop. Event details for these two events have not been released yet, so you just got an exclusive bit of information! 

 

If you would like to learn more and join the Students for Change organization, please follow their Instagram and Facebook