- We recognize our position.
These gatherings will center on where we can go and what we can do in the world as students at elite universities, which is a position that we strive to recognize and deal with as it relates to a number of other positions of power that each of us occupy along various axes of privilege. We consider all of these positions and what kind of consequences and meanings they have for us and for our communities, using those reflections to guide and ground our work.
- We are community-oriented.
We look towards the guidance of our communities both within and especially outside of the university to design actions and solutions that actually work to serve people in a grounded, informed, and effective way. We recognize that student activism must be connected with and on equal footing with the communities that we occupy and often gentrify.
- We are inclusive, intersectional, and non-hierarchical.
We want to design for justice and equity across race, class, gender, ability, sexuality, and all other kinds of backgrounds. In order to stay true to this mission, we will make sure to echo these ideals in our own practice, centering voices that should be heard
- We are action driven.
We want to equip students with ideas and tools to go forward into the world and work towards making the positive impact that they want to. Because of this, we want to know: what can we do concretely for our communities, for the world? We work towards developing action rather than despair.
- We are realistic and authentic.
While we remain committed to a better vision of the world, are realistic about what methods we have for change and our capacity to execute them. We are humble and curious and always thinking about what we can do to live in a way that aligns with our values and politics as a group.
In the wake of recent political events, but also in general, I’ve been feeling very helpless about what methods I have and what effects I can have on making the world a more equitable place for everyone. I often see popular memes in elite university meme groups about people having anti-capitalist or otherwise broadly social justice-oriented politics, but ending up going into consulting or finance despite that. Responses to these memes include pointing out the potential hypocrisy of criticizing students who choose to go into the private sector by people who want to remain in academia (corporate-funded!) or even go into the non-profit sector (beg for corporations’ spending money!). In general, I feel like a lot of people share my sense of being lost about what paths we have going forward from university, especially elite universities like Harvard or MIT where the allure of high-paying finance or tech jobs is almost inescapable.
This event that I want to plan would be like a hackathon, except not called a hackathon so that I can disassociate it from hackathon stereotypes like staying up late and devising solutions to huge societal problems in 24-48 hours. It is held in the new student center on campus and we would make a specific effort to get non-Harvard undergraduates to participate, from a wide variety of backgrounds; organizers would reach out to community leaders and members around the Cambridge and Boston area to attend. The goal of this gathering would be to create an action plan for students who want to get involved in direct community service and be effective to the people and causes they want to serve today. Further iterations of the event could include critical examinations of pathways out of elite institutions led by a panel of people who went down those paths to think about what kind of life trajectories are possible from our starting points.