On Monday night, a small but passionate group of student leaders assembled in the BCC to form a new network of humanitarian and justice activists on campus.
Known as the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA), this organization formed for the purpose of bringing exposure to important causes on campus and providing support for student organizations trying to make a difference.
PSA first organized late last year, and so the network was still in its early stages at the end of the semester. As a result, they are “just now finding out how best to network to strengthen our movements collectively,” according to Arturo Jaras Watts ’14.
Jaras Watts is one of many students involved in the launch of PSA last year. Luke Record ’14, Rachel Lang ’14, Crystal Rodriguez ’14 and Mike Elwell ’13, as well as graduates Marissa Tota ’12 and Alicia Bissonnette ’12, brought PSA to life.
Both Jaras Watts and Record were quick to emphasize throughout the meeting that the purpose of PSA was not to create a new organization with them as leaders. Rather, PSA will function as a horizontal network of dedicated leaders who provide support for other organizations on campus with important causes.
“Each of us here represent different clubs that we are committed to,” said Record. “But the purpose of PSA is so that when it gets to a point … where you go and present these ideas and it’s on the line and you need backup, we can come.”
Record clarified that this support was not automatic. “If you need a petition that needs to be signed, we should all read it and not just blindly follow you guys,” Record said, “but I think we can see the benefits that this would accrue for all of us.”
Another important function of PSA is to increase the visibility of important humanitarian and justice events happening on campus. In order to accomplish this goal, PSA discussed options such as compiling a bathroom newsletter that lists these events and provides information about the clubs and organizations sponsoring them.
“We have events like the phenomenal Take Back the Night event that happens every year and we want participation to be as large as possible,” said Jaras Watts. “The newsletter would serve that side of the function of increasing the visibility and reaching a greater portion of Fairfield students.” The group also discussed creating a public space such as a bulletin board in the BCC that would display these events and club information.
In all, 10 different groups and organizations were represented at the meeting on Monday, although not all clubs involved in PSA were able to send representatives to the meeting. These groups ranged from the environmental club Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield (LEAF) to Act Against, a student movement that works to bring important issues to the forefront of campus consciousness.
The organizations and clubs involved in PSA are currently working on assembling their newsletter, which they hope to release during the first weeks of next semester.