Looking to promote social justice through awareness, a new student group, part of a larger global organization, has formed at NMU this fall.
Amnesty International has chapters all over the world. It is the largest human rights organization that fights for human rights locally, nationally and internationally. The Marquette chapter is focused on national awareness and doing things locally, sophomore social work major Abi Austin said.
Alongside junior social work major Hayley Buckhout, Austin started the Amnesty International chapter on campus in mid-September. They heard about the group through a social work class and decided to start a local chapter in order to create an outlet for people to help.
“It was enough to just get educated about it in class, but it’s a whole other thing to start to inflict change on society,” Buckhout said.
The group meets at 8 p.m. every Wednesday in Jamrich Hall and there are generally 9 to 15 people per group session. Other than Buckhout and Austin being the co-presidents, there is a treasurer, a secretary and a head for each of the two campaigns the group focuses on.
“We want our meetings to be both educational and we want it to be hopeful,” Buckhout said. “Our goal at the end of every meeting is to not just have talked about stuff, but to figure out a way in which we can do something,” Buckhout said.
There are six campaigns a chapter can work on. The Marquette chapter is specifically focusing on the refugees campaign for the semester. The group has started working specifically on awareness for the refugee campaign, Austin said. They chose the refugee campaign because it is one of the two priority campaigns and because it is prevalent
“It’s cool to have awareness as it’s happening,” Austin said. “I think it feels like you can make more of a difference because you’re advocating for things as policies are being changed.”
The amnesty group hosted their first event on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Velodrome Coffee. They are doing a series there called “What’s Brewing?” The event was called “Broadening Perspectives On Refugees.” The group will also be hosting a concert at the Ore Dock on Dec. 7, where there will be a couple of bands and tables with information about different ways to advocate, Austin said.
There will also be a chance to send a letter or sign a petition to help refugees.
Gender and sexual identity is the second campaign the group will focus on. With this campaign, they want to bring together organizations that might already be doing events that deal with gender sexuality. So far, the group has talked with the Women for Women group. The group has also talked about doing a project with local youth in the community, Buckhout said.
Austin would like to establish the Amnesty group as a group that fights for human rights and supports Marquette on a local level, but also feels connected to groups around the world, even though they are based in Marquette.
“It’s not just a refugee campaign, and not just gender sexuality,” Austin stated. “It’s all human rights, and that we can grow to be big enough that any time it feels there’s a threat to human rights, we can educate people and get people an opportunity to get involved with that.”