Friday, October 28, 2011

Political theater

Herman Cain, the potential future president of the United States:

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Here is the Huntsman family's response:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Come gather around people wherever you roam...

This week I had the unusual pleasure of attending the Republican Economics debate in New Hampshire at Dartmouth College on Tuesday. But first let me back up. This story starts with 7 AIDS activists, a bus of journalism students and many bagels. On Monday morning all 60 of us (yikes) drove to New Hampshire to go to some of the pre-debate town hall events that the Republican presidential candidates were hosting. To completely understand this story I am going to have to explain an activism tactic called birddogging.

Birddogging is the tactic that activists use to put pressure on politicians to form a policy on a certain issue (in our case, HIV/AIDS). It involves repeatedly questioning the aforementioned politician in varying ways to either illicit a response or to gather media attention. It can end in either a relationship of understanding, or simply mutual annoyance.

First on our agenda was a Jon Huntsman event at a train station in Tilton, NH. We started by having a non-SGACer (Student Global AIDS Campaign) ask Huntsman a question about funding PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) at the same level as under the Bush administration. After two more questions Huntsman admitted that he did not know very much about the issue and promised to look in on it. And here is the best part- HE ACTUALLY DID! After the debate he came to speak to the students and mentioned how important fighting AIDS was. Jon Huntsman- SUCCESS!!

Moving on to Mitt Romney, a more heated albeit less happy tale. We went to a Romney event at a quaint New Hampshire general store along with 5 students that we managed to convince to come with us from the journalism class. Here is Mitt with Mrs. Romney:

Romney did not offer an opportunity to answer questions, so we went to his next event in Hopkinton, a town-hall style gathering. It was here that we met up with the rest of the St. Mikes group and sat down to enjoy watching and participating in the democratic process.

If you want a true picture of how the event went, I suggest watching this video:

Romney did not provide us the responses on HIV/AIDS policies that we would have liked, but the media attention that the issue gathered was well worth it. Check them out:

This trip was great for two reasons- one, SGAC was able to meet and discuss HIV/AIDS with our potential president. But what was even greater was that we could share this experience with people that may not have normally called themselves activists. Until next time, peace and power to the people!

Friday, October 7, 2011

"If you don't do politics, politics will do you." what the French and Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters say. This past Tuesday I attended a dinner with the executive director of Democracy Matters, Joan Mandle and a few other student activists. We talked about student movements, St. Michael's and how we can make a difference in the political arena of the United States. Joan is an extremely intelligent person who teaches sociology at Colgate University in New York. She has experienced things that politically engaged students today only dream today. Joan has marched on Washington with Dr. King and participated with other students during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Incredible stuff.

I just love when Joan said this quote about politics. In the United States, politics can be a dirty word. People don't want to talk about politics at risk of being too controversial. But as this quote suggests, it is such an important part of participating in society. At the most obvious level politics control taxes, the military and social security. But to dig deeper than that is to realize that everything from the food you we eat to the shoes on our feet is political. So, it is only natural that we care about these things.

After dinner we had a meeting with more students about how to organize and attract students to political events on campus. You have to be able to convince your friends to agree with you before you are able to reach out to more people. St. Michael's is an incredibly caring campus with organizations like the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), the Peace & Justice Club, the Food Justice Club, Common Ground (an LGBT alliance group), the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SLAM) and our giant volunteer organization, MOVE. I believe that these excellent groups could work together more to more effectively achieve or goals. The saying, "the more the merrier," holds some truth, especially in this circumstance.

This weekend we are planning an event that will hopefully utilize all of these excellent resources on campus (more to come!).
But for now know that the world is changing fast. Sometimes you can forget that there are people that have some very similar views that you do. In fact, these people may be all around just waiting to be a part of something bigger than yourselves. Peace!!