Presidential advocacy board to outline path forward next semester

Curran Neenan | News Editor

Student Union’s presidential advocacy board, a collection of student groups that aim to promote campus activism, plans to release its five-pillar platform, as well as hold a collective rally, near the start of the spring 2019 semester.

SU President junior Tyrin Truong and Vice President of Public Relations sophomore Beth Wiesinger preside over the board, which is composed of advocacy groups such as Washington University for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity (WU/FUSED), Fossil Free WashU, Resist WhiteU, The Washington University Graduate Workers Union (WUGWU) and Leaders for Interpersonal Violence Education (LIVE), among others.

The board will release its platform next semester, as well as stage a joint rally with the board’s advocacy groups to whip up support for its goals. Wiesinger said the board is waiting until next semester because the momentum built from a late semester rally might attenuate over winter break. Wiesinger and several member organizations declined to elaborate on the board’s platform or offer concrete goals.

“We’re trying to have all of our ducks in a row,” Title Mine President junior Candace Hayes said. “When we make our first big statement, we want it to have a huge impact and begin building student power and mobilizing students in a way that they haven’t been in a long time.”

The advocacy board is the result of one of Truong’s campaign promises and tracks with his stated mission to carve out a larger space in SU for student advocacy. Truong, the founder of the SU Black Caucus, has long championed the embrace of marginalized groups in SU.

According to Wiesinger, the board was included in her and Truong’s start-of-year goals document as a way to “uplift student activism.”

Truong did not respond to a request for comment.

“Our goal is to empower students to demand change and action for the betterment of the student experience on campus, and in every way possible that we can think of,” Wiesinger said.

According to Hayes, Title Mine has always had a productive relationship with SU’s executive branch. She said Title Mine is currently building in-roads to SU Senate’s Health and Wellness Committee in order to lobby for increased mental health services, one pillar of the five-part proposal Title Mine submitted to Chancellor Martin in November.

“Us joining this coalition will hopefully increase the student buy-in, and not just to Title Mine’s movement, but into student activism in general to hopefully create a more sustainable, systemic change on campus,” Hayes said.

Wiesinger said the board hopes to encourage collaborative activism among different advocacy groups. A model for that brand of joint activism are the rallies WUGWU and Fossil Free WashU have held calling for a $15 minimum wage for graduate students and University divestment from fossil fuel companies.

In a statement to Student Life, LIVE’s executive team expressed excitement with the board and its centering of underrepresented community members.

“We joined this board because we believe that it is an incredible opportunity to work for the empowerment of the Washington University community,” LIVE’s executive team wrote.

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