11 Must-Do's for Student Activists This Spring Semester
Winter break is over and you’re officially half-way through the academic year! One semester down, one more to go. Whether you’re focusing this semester’s efforts on recruitment, hosting a large event on campus, or leading the most insightful organizational meetings, there are a variety of things you should do as you continue to spread the ideas of liberty on your campus. Although this blog considers the perspectives of liberty activists, these suggestions apply to activists across the political spectrum.
1. Set Goals & Deadlines
What are your goals for this semester? Collaborate with fellow leaders to figure out what you want to execute. If you want to host a specific event, make deadlines far in advance and be as specific as possible. It’s never too early to decide on what week, day, or time, would be most ideal to host an event.
2. Plan Ahead
You can set goals and deadlines, but nothing gets accomplished without planning ahead. What does each step of the process for each goal look like? What kind of tasks need to be completed to reach each goal? You are more likely to follow-through on your goals when you’ve thought about each minor detail in advance instead of waiting until the last minute to execute tasks. So get started right after you finish reading this list!
3. Delegate Tasks
A list of tasks will arise as you plan ahead. Tasks such as reserving rooms, contacting speakers, and advertising for events may not seem like a big deal, but each task takes up valuable time. These are tasks that may seem manageable to one person, but it would be much smoother if they were delegated to other people in your group, maybe people with a comparative advantage in a certain task. Don’t labor away trying to craft a gorgeous event flyer if you know nothing about graphic design and someone in your group is better suited for it. Delegating tasks is also a great way to recruit new leadership and develop a sense of mutual trust and responsibility for the semesters to follow.
4. Attend at least one conference as professional development
In the spring, there’s a variety of conferences and events you can attend to increase your knowledge on political ideas and build your network. Of course, LibertyCon is your best bet. But be on the look out on campus and online for other opportunities. Be intentional when you’re attending conferences as part of professional development. Don’t just go to go. Go to build yourself personally and professionally.
5. Recruit, Recruit, & Recruit
It’s Spring, which means that many of you will be graduating this semester. If you aren’t graduating, you also may be wanting to take a step back from your leadership role… however, it wouldn’t be right to go out into the world to do “bigger and better things” without continuing your legacy on your campus. It’s critical to continue the growth of your student organization(s) to find new membership and leadership. Recruit as much as possible this semester. You’ll be thanking yourself later.
An effective way to recruit new membership is to be social. You don’t have to be a social butterfly, but don’t hesitate in going outside of your comfort zone. You can attend a variety of campus events, make friends with your friends’ friends, and host socials. Make an effort to invite people inside and outside of your usual friend circle.
7. Attend an event that is of a different political perspective than yours (with an open mind and positive attitude)
This is a suggestion meant to challenge you and help you grow as a political activist. Too often are we sucked into our own echo chambers of political thought. When you attend a political event that advocates for a different perspective than your own, it challenges you. It challenges you to think differently. It challenges you to grow. It may also challenge you to either reaffirm your current beliefs or to change your beliefs. This opportunity will likely enhance your critical thinking skills as well as your ability to socialize and interact with people who hold radically different opinions than yourself.
8. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished thus far
Whether you’re just starting the semester, half-way done with it, or it’s the week before finals, it can be motivating to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished the past few months. When you look back on all of the meetings and events you’ve held, how much you’ve tabled, and the new wisdom you’ve brought to others, you may feel a sense of accomplishment (or lack there of). Use this thinking to motivate you to do more in your activism.
9. Plan an event with at least one other organization
After you’ve held several events through your own organization, you should reach out to other organizations to see if you could work together. You can hold an event, such as a debate, with other political groups on campus. You can focus on a single political issue, such as immigration, and unite with another student group on campus that focuses its efforts on the same issue. You’ll have more support and skills for task delegation, reach a bigger audience, expand your network, and build a stronger sense of community on your campus.
10. Secure potential new leadership
Before the semester ends, you’ll want to ensure that you have a solid leadership team coming into the new academic year. If you’re a Campus Coordinator, have you encouraged student leaders to apply for next year’s Campus Coordinator positions? If you’re the President of a student group of campus, have you held elections? If you’re in a leadership role, it’s a great idea to create a leadership transitional manual binder with information and advice new officers can draw from to have a smoother transition into their leadership positions. Provide them with tips on how to reserve a room on campus, contact information of campus professionals that can be your advocates, media contacts, etc.
11. Celebrate at the end of it all!
By the end of the semester, you’ll want to celebrate! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not easy being a political activist on a college campus where the political climate is extremely polarized. Reward yourself for not giving up and staying true to your political ideals.