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  • The Brown Daily Herald

Back in ‘full swing’: Activist Coalition hosts first conference after pandemic hiatus

This article is written and published by the Brown Daily Herald

The Activist Coalition, an alliance of on-campus student groups, held its first conference Saturday afternoon after a period of inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a dozen on-campus activist groups — including Students for Educational Equity, Sunrise Brown and Students for Justice in Palestine — presented their organizations’ histories and current work to a packed Petteruti Lounge in the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center.

The Activist Coalition is a revival of a consortium of “various student activist groups, which organized and supported one another” before COVID-19 scattered University community members around the globe, said Aboud Ashhab ’25, an organizer for SJP.

The coalition last held a virtual conference around two years ago before eventually dying out as activism began to disappear on Brown’s largely-virtual campus, according to SEE co-president Jada Wooten ’24.

“The coalition was really a powerful space for me to come into because it taught me some of the activist (groups’) histories (and) connected me to activist alums (and) students on campus,” Wooten said.

“The activist coalition was a space that welcomed me into Brown,” she added, noting that she now wants to create a similar environment for underclassmen. The idea of reviving the formerly defunct Activist Coalition came from “a feeling of discontent with … how activism (has been) practiced” on campus in recent semesters, according to Isabella Garo ’24, Sunrise Brown co-founder and conference organizer.

“There was a desire to get back on our feet as activists on campus and get together (to) help each other out,” Garo said.

Following an introduction by Wooten, activist clubs that are part of the coalition presented their group’s histories and objectives for the upcoming semester. Brown Democratic Socialists, Doulas@Brown, Disability Justice at Brown, End Sexual Violence at Brown, Graduate Labor Organization, Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere, Railroad, Student Labor Alliance and Teaching Assistant Labor Organization all gave presentations.

Lillian Bernstein ’24, a peer support coordinator at ESV who presented on behalf of the organization, said she hopes the coalition will help groups stay “on the same page with each other” and enable them to “hold each other accountable.”

For Ashhab, the coalition will be a valuable space for creating unity among activist groups on campus. “Solidarity is the path forward,” he said. “You cannot really care about one cause without caring about multiple causes.”

According to Ashhab, one of the coalition’s goals will be to hold the University accountable for its endowment investments and impact on the local Providence community.

Many student organizers at the conference were pleased with its turnout. Ava Ward ’25, a member of Sunrise Brown, told The Herald that she was “really interested in hearing what all the activist organizations had to say” in their presentations. “It’s great to be able to expose oneself to (different) ideas and … plans,” Ward said. “Even if I don’t join (all of the groups) permanently, I can help participate and support.”

“I thought it was amazing,” Ashhab said. “As a student who came (to Brown) post-pandemic, I saw … that activism was still being revived, but now this shows that it's in full swing.”



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