The Hofstra University Honors College organized a Friday Forum focusing on activism. College campuses are no strangers to the idea of it. Several protests, marches and counter protests have developed since Nov. 8 around New York and many students have gotten involved, or want to.
Still, the event served as an introduction to the world of activism for many. “I wanted to understand more about what being an activist is because I am knowledgably ignorant,” Billy Schimmel, an Honors College student, said. “I feel like everyone to a degree can’t know everything so I want to increase my perspective, and I see a lot of validity in what they have to say.”
Professor Andrea Libresco organized the event and invited student speakers such as Natasha Rappazzo a senior history and a political science major, Emily Beck a junior global studies and geography major, and Fatimah Mozzarella sophomore premed major.
“A lot of students want to do something but they are not sure what …” Libresco said. “What came out of this, I think, was about joining organizations, going to hear information that people didn’t know before.”
Students expressed their concerns. Most were centered on the media, bias in sources and where to find reliable information. With the constant exposure to information, some were not only overwhelmed but worried about the trustworthiness of several sources.
Libresco described reliable information as the foundation for genuine activism, “If you acquire the information then you need not be nervous. You can go to any organization, be on TV, be on the radio and explain the information you have and say why you are doing what you are doing, and why it matters, and that’s activism.”
The discussion highlighted how objective information helps people reach their own informed conclusions and helps lead them away from conversations based on political bias.
“I am very interested in political lectures because increasing the number of voices [you hear] increases your ability to correctly judge, the more voices the more you can determine if it’s fact or fiction, or just different perspectives,” Schimmel said.
Libresco agreed, saying “I think the first step, in activism, is acquiring reliable information. That is the most important thing in a democracy, and then when you have that information you can act on it.”
Issues from the environment, to reproductive rights, to intersectionality were touched upon. “It was really interesting to learn what students are prioritizing and what they want to be involved in in the future,” Beck said.
Rappazzo talked of her experience in activism and how her interest in a small issue was still important to her to carry through. “I was in a protest this summer at Raytheon, a weapon and military electronics manufacturer, and it was just four people including myself. At the time I was very embarrassed thinking how it was just the four of us and people were looking at us.”
Rappazzo realized that by her small protest she inciting an idea. She said that because of her action, “someone actually thought about Raytheon building bombs and killing people every day, and how they probably shouldn’t.’”
Libresco urged students to contribute to activism in little tasks such as the five-minute test. “The five-minute test means at the end of the day you check in with yourself on what you did to make the world a better place … You have to make yourself do it until it becomes part of your life, and it’s a great part of your life and it doesn’t take that long.”