Issue date: 9/15/08
Activist groups are hosting the first Radical Rush Week to highlight
the social scene of politically active students on the campus.
Sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society, the week hopes to
build up the existing activist community and draw in freshmen and
transfer students through a series of educational events and
entertainment. The organizers hope to echo the sense of community
associated with Greek life, but without bids or membership dues, said
SDS member and sophomore American studies and lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender studies major Josef Parker.
Students and Workers Unite! president Carter Thomas, a junior
American studies major, said the groups involved want to offset the
impression that activists are "boring, political people." Other
schools, such as American University, XXXXXXXXXX have held rush weeks
for activists before, and the idea is a step up from other informal
summits that have been held in the past, said junior American studies
major and Pride Alliance president Jenna Brager.
"The focus on things being fun was something we took from Greek life,
like having a radio show, so it's not just like, 'Hey, come listen to
some lectures,'" Thomas said.
"It's a recruiting tool, with different activist groups working
together to provide an alternative social scene," added SDS member
and sophomore American studies major Jon Berger. "One of our goals
was to show that being politically engaged doesn't mean you have to
be at a rally all the time."
The planning process was helped by the fact that many student
activists are involved with more than one group. Building
relationships and a sense of community could help with pulling off
future campaigns, Berger said.
Brager said that a single-issue focus is "limiting" because "when you
look at one injustice or social concern, you find immediately that
it's wrapped up in every other kind of concern."
"For example, when you look at environmentalism, which is very
popular on this campus, you're also looking at poverty and racism
because you have to look at who is the most affected," she added.
Activist groups such as Community Roots and Clean Energy for UMD will
be sponsoring some of the events. Talks with titles such as "Who Owns
this University?" and "Student Activism at Maryland: A History" seek
to show the tangible results of students who've been involved in the past.
"We're going to have people who were involved in SDS and other
activist groups at Maryland in the '60s and '70s, and I think it will
be really amazing to see that we have that tradition," Brager said.