In hopes of creating a platform where students can unapologetically share their voices, a group of undergraduates from Fairfield University and the University of the District of Columbia came together to build a cross-school partnership: The Youth Equality Forum.
This online blog serves as a site where students can write about topics ranging from experiences with discrimination to openly sharing their views on social or global issues that affect our current generation.
Some examples of publications might surround topics such as racial or sexual prejudice, experiences with college drinking, climate change, gun violence and more.
Upon reconnecting with a former colleague, Peter Baron ‘23 was offered an untouched domain name in which he could do whatever he pleased. His first idea: giving students a vocal platform that was easy to access.
“Knowing that Fairfield is a predominantly white institution that has a history of racist scandals in the past, we thought this would be really good for our campus community to have a platform for minority students to share their stories,” Baron stated. “We also felt that in general, it would advance the mission for equality.”
The platform first launched on Jan. 15, allowing anyone of interest to submit their opinionated blogs. “All last semester was just us creating the website, rules and social media,” Baron explained. Their Instagram account can be found @Youth_equality.
There are currently four articles posted on the blog which are all written by advisory board members. This group of editors is made up of six Fairfield students and two students from the University of the District of Columbia, where they pride themselves on making sure that there is “no hierarchy,” shared advisory board member Renée Levesque ‘23, as they “want to model the change we want to see.”
The forum is hoping for more than four blog posts, however, and is currently seeking outside submissions. “It’s a simple process to publish,” Levesque continued. “Basically anything you want to voice or express is a good point to start and be a part of the conversation and build this sense of community.”
Their submission guidelines consist of the following regulations: you must be a member of Generation Z (born from 1997 to 2012), submissions should be between 500 and 750 words and mixed media is allowed. The forum is most notably open to writers outside of Fairfield University, also as The Youth Equality Forum advisory board is hoping to provide blogs from students well beyond our campus.
The age requirement is one of the more important factors for The Youth Equality Forum. “Gen Z has a unique perspective that needs to be heard because we’ve grown up in the era of social media, technology and COVID and the internet,” Baron explained.
He continued, “Our goal is generating a dialogue among our generation because we feel that our generation should be at the forefront with these movements for equality.”
For those who are anxious to publish under their name, it is not necessary to include their identity. The editors understand that people may be uncomfortable outing themselves for personal anecdotes, and therefore ask to only verify their names in private to ensure accuracy.
Furthermore, since the forum is on a rolling publication basis, most submissions will be posted within that day or the next. The editors make it a fact to only edit spelling and grammar to ensure that the writer’s words are true to their viewpoint. The one exception, of course, is if they feel they identify any hate speech, which then will be asked to be revised.
“I think it’s important to give students everywhere a platform to amplify their voices and share their experiences of discrimination so that we can raise awareness and be able to address those social justice issues adequately,” shared Levesque.
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