Over Twenty Ways to Use this Site to Improve Your Activism
(Note: this version was written for campus activists)

1. You Want to Win Your Local Campaign
You don't network because you want someone to tell you what to do. You should network so that you can do what *you* want -- only better. Find other groups and people that are working on the same or a similar campaign. Email them. Call them. Visit them. They can tell you what worked and failed for them and then you can adjust this advice to the specific situation on your campus. You can use other people's arguments, their resources (leaflets, research papers, and essays), and when the campaign comes down to the wire, you can ask for their support. They can email your school newspaper, email/fax/call your administrators, and even show up at your campus for a rally to express their support.

2. You Want to Win Your Campaign Everywhere
Once you've got your group all charged up and you're winning your local campaign, now is an excellent time to share your goals and strategy with activists at other schools so that they can repeat your success. If you network you can help create progressive social change that will affect thousands of people living in other communities.

Upload materials that you have collected or written yourself about the campaign. Leaflets, graphics, an essay on the campaign's goals and tactics, a campaign packet - whatever you have. You can also search for groups and search for people who might be interested in working on this campaign based on what issues they listed that they cared about. Email, call, and/or mail them to ask. If your issue/campaign isn't already included in our list of issues then you can add it. Then you will be able to associate materials, events, groups, and email lists, and people with that issue.

3. Winning for the Long Term
Most student activist groups have high levels of turnover. Within one or two years your group could lose almost all of its leadership, resources, files, members, contacts, organizational memory, and skills. Ultimately the campaigns that you fought so hard to won can be reversed after you've graduated and the issue has been forgotten. To maintain your organization's strength, you need to constantly empower and train your new members to become leaders, have an active advisor who will help keep the group alive, and maintain archives that record what your group has achieved.

In addition, you will benefit from being plugged into a national network of activists through CampusActivism.org. If your group dwindles down to a couple members, but still knows about this website, then they will be able to find conferences, protests, ideas for campaigns, organizing resources, speakers and trainers - everything they need to resurrect the group. You should also write up a history of your group's activities (perhaps with a strategic analysis of what worked and what didn't) and upload it as a resource for both future activists from your school and activists from all schools.

4. You Want to Attend a Conference
Check out the list of events for nearby conferences where you can learn new skills, about issues, network, and have fun. You can also search for it.

5. You Want to Attend a Large Protest
Show your support for a just cause and get inspired by being a part of a larger movement by attending a protest. Search for a protest that is near you.

6. You Want to Organize a Conference, Protest, or National Day of Action
Advertise your event by listing it in the events calendar. You can also find groups and find people who might be interested in attending. If you are in the United States or Canada, you can limit your search to only find groups and people within a certain distance of your conference or protest. This is much more efficient than searching by state, especially for people who don't live in the exact middle of a state. You can also limit your search by issue. For instance if you are organizing a peace conference you might want to invite all the people and groups who said they were interested in peace and multiple issues (listed on the site as 'multi-issue'). Or you might want to be more ambitious and invite people and groups who care about other issues as well.

If it was a weekend conference, you might want to invite everyone within 500 miles (more if it is a quality event of national importance). If it was just a mini-conference lasting one day, you might want to limit your distance to 100-200 miles. Try to be appropriate in choosing whom to invite. Don't send out emails to everyone on the site for a local event just because you can - if you do, the website won't be effective in the long run.

7. You Want to Invite a Speaker or Trainer
If you want to invite a trainer to teach your group some much-needed skills, or invite a speaker to fire up the general student body you can search for a speaker.

8. You Want to Speak and do Trainings - Road Trip Time!
Perhaps the largest need in the student movement is for young people to visit other schools to reach the most activists possible. Go where the people are. Plan several workshops or presentations that you can give to assist students in gaining the skills they need to be effective activists. You might want to offer a workshop on campaign strategy, on anti-oppression, on building a democratic group, recruitment, retention, or a particular issue. Your school visits could be the start of a state or regional network that could hold regular conferences, have a newsletter, email list, and fight regional campaigns. Don't tell anyone we said it, but you might want to drop out of school or take a year off =)

9. You Want to Start a Group
You can look at all the groups listed on the site to figure out what kind of group you might want to create. Maybe there is a specific issue you care about, or maybe you want to create a multi-issue organization (look for a group by issue). Maybe there is an existing national network of groups that you want to join who will be able to provide you with resources and advice ( You can limit your search to networks). Probably there is at least one group, if not twenty, out there that have the same goals and structure of what you're trying to create.

To get advice on starting a group, recruiting members, structuring it, holding meetings, picking one or more issues, and fighting strategic campaigns to win - you might want to read an organizing guide, as you won't learn how to do this stuff in most classes. We have organizing guides from the Student Environmental Action Coalition and the Center for Campus Organzing online, as well as several others.

For writing your constitution and goals, starting to write it based on another group's might be easier that starting from scratch. Maybe you want to create a leaflet to publicize your group - maybe you'd want to model it off another group's leaflet. (I uploaded the constitution and group leaflet for the Notre Dame Progressive Student Alliance - hopefully others will add their's as well.)

10. You Want to Improve Your Group's Effectiveness
Checkout the online resources. Read one or several organizing guides, as they are full of tips on this subject. Also there might be materials like case studies and essays written about the experiences of other groups that will help. Attending a good conference might give your group members the inspiration, skills, and contacts that they'll need. Get ambitious, pick up the phone and call an activist listed online and ask for advice.

11. You Want to Create a Leaflet
You can look at leaflets that other people have created. Maybe there will be one written on a similar topic and you can either edit that leaflet and use it, or borrow several of its most useful ideas/facts. You can get graphics (clip art and pictures) that will improve the appearance of the leaflet (Or you can get graphics once people start uploading them.). Once you're done writing it, you can upload it to the site so that people across the country can use it - expanding your potential audience by at least ten-fold. Better leaflets help you educate, recruit, and win campaigns.

12. You Want to Share a Poster
Upload your cool looking poster so that others can use it! Many activists aren't artists and they rely upon your artwork so that we can produce eye-catching world-changing posters.

13. You Want to Share an Image or Photo
Upload images and photos so that we'll have an impressive online collection of graphics that folks can use when they are creating posters, leaflets, booklets, books, info-packets, and other materials.

14. You Want to Discuss an Issue, an Idea, an Upcoming Eevent, or Anything Else
Use our online discussion forum. If you want us to create a new area for your topic, let us know and we'll do it. You can also look for an email list that would be appropriate. Or you can start your own email list and add it.

15. You Want to Share Your Experience
Maybe your group pulled off this amazing campaign and won, or maybe your campaign was terrible and you lost. Perhaps your group figured out how to have productive meetings. Maybe you organized a coalition that united all the activist groups on your campus. Maybe your group suffered from males dominating positions of leadership until you confronted them and solved the problem. Perhaps you wrote a paper for class or fun on the history of student activism at your school. Whatever the case, if you learnt something from the experience, write it up and upload it as a text file so that others can gain from your experience. Let's create a grassroots history of the student movement!

16. You Want to Write a Story or Paper about Student Activism
The site gives you easy access to a good assortment of activists whom you could interview. Upload it once its done.

17. You Want to Table at an Event
If you are tabling on the street, at a protest, in a student union, or at a conference, then you can get materials to print and distribute from this site.

18. You Work at an Infoshop or Activist Bookstore
You can find resources here to print out and distribute. Many infoshops carry pamphlets similar to those found here.

19. You Want to Start a City, State, or Regional Network
We love you!!! Very few states have effective networks of student activists. Often students have no idea of what is happening at the campus only thirty minutes away. You could start a single-issue or multi-issue network, create an email list, a website, publish a newsletter, organize conferences (or gatherings), and support each other's actions. Search for all the people and groups in the area where you want to create the network. Contact them and build a network. You probably will want to integrate your new network into an existing national network.

20. You Want to Join and Strengthen an Existing National Network/Organization
There are many awesome national student organizations that have only reached a fraction of the groups that they could. There is little reason for a group not to join at least one national network. You can choose from national groups that have strong principles and strong national campaigns, or you can pick one that is more decentralized with a looser set of principles that encourages local groups to choose their own campaigns. Whatever your group is comfortable with you'll be likely to find a national organization that suits you. Most student activist networking and resource sharing is done through existing national organizations. It's inspiring to be part of a larger movement.

If you are an organizer or just a regular member for a national organization, you could use the site to recruit groups to join your organization. In general, it is best to recruit people and groups who aren't currently affiliated with an organization - as these are the people/groups who most need your organization, and you don't want to be seen as stealing members from other organizations.

You can also post materials produced by your national organization. This will help the students who use them, and simultaneously promote your organization.

21. Thinking Big: You Want to Create a National Student Activist Newspaper or Newswire
A couple years ago, the Center for Campus Organizing (CCO) published 'Infusion' - a national newspaper for progressive student activists. Unfortunately, CCO folded and Infusion is no longer printed. Similarly in Canada there was the Student Activist Network (SAN) which published a paper, but exists no longer. Several national groups publish a magazine or newsletter (the Student Environmental Action Coalition and Young Democratic Socialists produce substantial magazines), but nobody produces a general multi-issue newspaper that tries to cover the entire progressive student movement like CCO and SAN once did.

You could use this website to recruit people from all over the country, from a diversity of political perspectives and regions to form a collective that would launch the paper. You could publish it online or in newsprint. (Newsprint can be very cheap - for $400-$600 you can print a couple thousand newspapers -- mailing will cost extra). If you're interested in using campusactivism.org to facilitate a newspaper, writing a book or other material, producing a syndicated student activist news program for college radio, or other major project - let us know how we could help. Within the next several months, we intend to create a system to facilitate article sharing for progressive campus alternative publications. This will also serve as a newswire with the news headlines appearing on our homepage.

22. Thinking Big: You Want to Start a National Group/Network
Before you do this, be sure to check out to see if you don't want to join an existing group instead. Check this site, post a query on the site's forum and on email lists, and also search the Internet - as that will save you a lot of work. Generally existing groups are very open to new people becoming involved. If you are enthusiast and semi-qualified, you can easily be elected to a voluntary leadership position. Make sure you aren't reinventing the wheel just to stroke your own ego so that you can have 'your own' organization.

If there isn't any existing group, then if you're up for it, go ahead and create one. Realize that it is a lot of work to start one and even harder to keep it going. Many people spend a year or two trying to build a national network, and then they only ever get a handful of chapters to join. Perhaps you might want to create a national student-led student-run organization for LGBTQ students, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, women, or high school students. In my opinion, these constituencies are the most lacking in strong national networks. Whereas if you'd try to start a national student environmental or peace network - there are several that already exist.

Do outreach to groups and people who would be interested in your new organization AND who aren't already involved in pre-existing networks. It isn't a good idea to build your new organization by stealing members from already organized groups - this is debatable, but arguably there are enough groups and people who aren't involved in networks and that you should focus your outreach on them. So if you are a creating a LGBTQ group, you could get a list of people and groups who are interested in LGBTQ issues. You could tell by their name, description, or website if they are already involved in a preexisting network. If they aren't, then invite them to form a network. You could start a discussion in a forum, start a listserv, organize a conference, etc.

If you have additional ideas to add to this list, either things that you can use the site for now or ideas for the future - email aaron@campusactivism.org