Students gathered outside the School of Business Friday night to introduce several activist groups on campus.
The crowd of roughly 30 listened to various speakers from UConn UNCHAIN, UConn Collaborative Organizing, Environmental Justice Front, Revolution Against Rape, Poetic Release, and the Black Students Association. There were also some speakers from outside the university representing AFL-CIO and activists from other Connecticut college campuses.
Notable among them was Wesleyan alum and organizer Bryan Chong, who spoke about organizing a resident assistant union at Wesleyan. Wesleyan’s RA union, which formed in the spring of 2022, is the first voluntarily recognized undergraduate student labor union in the country.
“Workers’ wages are going down every year while endowments are increasing,” Chong said. “Student workers are vital to the functioning of the neoliberal university and we can shut this place down.”
Ben Sagal-Morris, ninth semester History major and the vice president of UConn UNCHAIN, echoed this sentiment while speaking to the group about labor and the presence of defense contractors on campus.
“When we put our feet down, the whole campus stops,” Sagal-Morris said.
Seventh semester Spanish and Urban and Community Studies major and UNCHAIN member Harrison Raskin spoke about a new initiative to organize student labor, UConn Student/Labor Action Coalition.
Other representatives of student activist groups discussed various causes they intend to champion in the upcoming academic year.
Seventh semester chemistry major and Environmental Justice Front member Noah Liguori-Bills talked about the need to decarbonize the campus, and specifically about concerns with the UConn Cogeneration Plant.
Revolution Against Rape members Hannah Pierson, a fifth semester nursing student, and Grian Wizner, a third semester psychology student, outlined their demands for this semester, which included timely sexual assault investigations, more mental health providers and an advocate focused on students.
Nicola Wilk, a first year sociology masters student and UConn UNCHAIN member, told The Daily Campus that the event was important for student activists to come together at the beginning of the year.
“There’s so many important things that we need to do in this world and it’s a lot easier to do them if we work as a united front. Using each other as resources is very beneficial because it takes a village,” Wilk said.
Seventh semester political science and psychology major, UCCO President, and BSA member Hannah Ravenell also spoke to The Daily Campus and said that working collectively was important.
“Individually, we aren’t as successful or powerful, but collectively with each other, we have a lot of room to make a lot of demands and to move a lot on campus as well.”
Editors’ Note: Harrison Raskin is employed by The Daily Campus as Editor-in-Chief.