By Grace McFadden
On Friday, September 10, students rallied together for an omnibus of intersectional campus political causes. But this gathering had another motive: to introduce new students to the variety of activist groups on campus.
Activism: Disorientation was hosted by Fridays for Future, UConn Collaborative Organizing, and UConn Unchain. The groups gathered in the courtyard next to the School of Business.
The event was intended to bring awareness to seven demands, ranging from divesting from fossil fuel energy to more housing and bathroom options for LGBTQ+ students.
Nell Srinath, a third semester political science and journalism student and president of UConn UNCHAIN, was one of the organizers of the event. Srinath explained the event was inspired by other college political organizations.
“I was seeing the great work of other progressive organizations on campus across the country. The great work that, for example, Students for a Democratic Society does every year with their own yearly kickoff disorientation events. And it struck me that we’ve never really had an opportunity for these kinds of things. So I figured, why not?” Srinath said.
Students at the event gravitated towards a number of different causes. Judas Cote, a sophomore anthropology major, is part of UConn UNCHAIN. Cote spoke to the demand for further resources for LGBTQ+ students.
“For queer issues, it’s very difficult to find gender neutral bathrooms, like there’s the map, but how many are there not many,” Cote said. “And at the same time, there’s also with gender inclusive housing, we only get a floor and a half of Brock Hall. And that’s it.”
Like many of the students at the rally, Cote’s interests were not just limited to one issue.
“I’m pretty passionate about most of them, but I would say that UConn not being like, the most Green School in the world, you know, defunding the police, and the lack of student like democracy from the student body, particularly,” Cote said.
The event featured several speakers from across the organizations. Many of the speakers touched on the topic of intersectionality in environmentalism, including Harrison Raskin, a fifth semester philosophy and urban and community studies major and secretary of Fridays for Future.
“We can’t advocate for a green new deal in the United States without addressing the ways that American imperialism and predatory economic relations destroy the environment of the Third World,” Raskin said. “These kinds of politics focus exclusively on the environment. They ignore systemic oppression, and they reinforce the very institutions responsible for the climate catastrophe and the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems to begin with.”
Other issues touched on included the price of tuition, Parking Services, and the existence of the Board of Trustees.
The event allowed students to interact with activist groups on campus one on one ahead of the involvement fair. Many students, like Cote, said this event was just one among many, and that they would continue pushing the administration toward change.
“It just feels like UConn is doing the bare minimum to try to, like, look like it’s doing something. But it’s not doing anything because doing something would actually challenge the status quo that keeps UConn running and keeps them in business,” Cote said.