BY IRIS RODRIGUEZ | December 4, 2020
When my parents would say my generation was “the generation of technology, ” I usually thought it was their way of saying that I spend too much time staring at a screen. Now that my life depends on me being in front of a screen, I realize they were right. Oh, what a year it has been. I’m sad to say that most of my college days have been spent from the inside of my home. But I enjoy waking up three minutes before class and logging onto Zoom from the warmth of my Snuggie. Entering the fall semester, I was faced with a challenge to figure out how to continue to advocate for social justice.
One of the most challenging things this year was figuring out how to be a student organizer in the middle of a pandemic. I am a board member of Voices of Solidarity (VOS), one of Xavier University’s student clubs that advocates for migration justice. As I finish up this semester, I leave as a better organizer who learned ways to plan meetings and advocate in the middle of COVID-19.
Here are a few things I have learned:
The best way to organize meetings is to provide your meetings on different platforms. Our general body meetings are usually hybrid. We reserve a room on campus and allow students to reserve an in-person spot. For those who are more comfortable online, they can hop on at any time, either on Zoom or through our Instagram Live. Unfortunately, technology didn’t always work in our favor. There have been times when audio was off, our screen would freeze, or once we even had a wrong Zoom meeting password. It all feels like complete chaos during those situations, but I appreciate our members being patient and understanding that everyone is going through this. Media platforms should become your best friend during this time, and you should take advantage of them.
Another way of organizing is through our social media. We have both an Instagram and a Facebook account. Our wonderful social media chair dedicates time to posting colorful images of the work we do around campus, general updates, and information about VOS meetings. SOCIAL MEDIA IS IMPORTANT!!! Get creative; create boomerangs, videos, and post things that catch the eye. Reposting from your club’s social media page to your personal platform is also helpful. Through this time, I’ve seen that we have also gained audience members that do not attend our university, and part of that is because we repost as much as possible. So, when it comes to social media, make sure you are creative to keep your audience engaged.
You also have to recognize that when organizing, events won’t always turn out the way you planned—like having to cancel meetings because of COVID-19 testing scares or being stuck in quarantine. I say this as a reminder to take care of yourself. Yes, you are an organizer, and it may be natural to always feel like you are on the go. But your health and safety are the most important, so if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.
In short, being an organizer during a pandemic is hard. Remember to explore your options, be creative, and take care of yourself. You will be faced with challenges, and things won’t go as planned, but it’s all part of the experience of organizing in the middle of a pandemic.
I am a first-generation student at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. I am majoring in English with a concentration in Writing and am minoring in Sociology and Criminal Justice. I am the VIce-President of Xavier’s Voices of Solidarity, a club that advocates for migration justice. When I am not a full-time student, I am a part-time legal assistant at McKinney, and Namei L.P.A., where I serve my community in legal services. After Undergrad, I plan to attend the American University College of Law in hopes of becoming a specialized immigration and civil rights attorney. Eventually, I would like to spend my career in politics at the federal level, spending time doing more legal work for my community and those like it.