Following a year of social revolution nationally and a seemingly never-ending summer of Cleveland political protests, students first embarking on their college journeys are ready to continue organizing. But for many, the entry point to join the movement and collaborate with other students is unreachable.
A definitive perk of going to a university, especially near a city like Cleveland, is that if you feel passionately about a cause, there is probably an organization on your campus that does too. Many colleges have student portals set up to help easily search for affiliated student groups. Finding an organization to collaborate with can be as close as a simple Google search.
Beyond that, following local activists' Twitter accounts is an effective way to learn about the ins and outs of organizing. In and around the city of Cleveland, there are already established resources for those looking to involve themselves beyond the lengthy Facebook post. The Ohio Student Association (@OHIOStudents) and Cleveland Activism (@OccupyCleveland) are good starting points.
However, given the numerous issues young people look at as areas for change, sometimes the organizational framework hasn't been created yet.
For many, raising awareness and speaking out seem like insurmountable goals — something to leave up to the adults with a history in leadership and organizing. But building a foundation from the bottom up isn't just a distant dream to delay until you're a seasoned professional.
Seeing a lack of youth representation in the extensive world of gun violence prevention organizations, a small team of college students founded the Students United Against Gun Violence.
"After the shooting at Pulse in Orlando happened and after talking to a few people, we all realized that we were just done with it all. We kept seeing shooting after shooting. That was the turning point for us," says Jeremy Cronig, one of the association's founders. "And we weren't just going to work within the construct of organizations that already exist."
Much of modern organizing is done by utilizing social media for contacts and support, as opposed to establishing an initial base of people and money prior to the launch. Following the right people on Twitter or Facebook for your niche of activism is helpful for notification about how to get involved in causes in your area or on your campus.
"We saw that there was a need for this student voice against gun violence. We saw on our Facebook feeds and through social media that people wanted this voice," Cronig observed. "We started the organization and then people have latched on along the way, and that's hugely because of social media. Almost exclusively."
By founding or becoming a piece of a relatively new organization, young people can also avoid being stuck with the label of the "Representative of the Youth" to fill a quota. Either through joining along the way and working hard to become a part of the board or by starting from the beginning as an essential piece of the team, you can become as leading a member as any veteran activist.