At Wilmington College, there’s a student-led exercise in community organizing

By Gary Huffenberger - Staff columnist

Those leading a nonviolent student campaign at Wilmington College are community organizers — in this case, their college is the community.

Their community organizing is intentional, and what’s more they’re clearly aware of nonviolent tactics and organizing strategies for carrying out direct action campaigning.

At an event oriented to educating others and themselves held Dec. 1 next to the campus bell tower, WC student Jordan Snarr told those gathered there are multiple ways that individuals can be involved in nonviolent direct action campaigning to change things.

Snarr added she is involved in the campaign “because of the community that we have here [at the college].” A community-wide scope for the campaign is kept in view when the student activists note that support for their goals has come from alumni and former faculty.

The group Students for Action and Solidarity is focusing on four issues: 1) faculty and staff compensation, 2) improvements in access at two buildings for people with mobility issues, 3) increased support for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and 4) the handling of Title IX sexual assault matters.

With each of those, the activist students are advocating for campus community members whose voices, on their own, might be less audible than that of the Students for Action and Solidarity.

Indeed, one of the students’ early signs recognized this. It read: “Students have a voice when employees don’t!” These students have helped make the local public and some of their fellow students more conscious of the issue of family-supportive wages for faculty and staff.

Student Peyton Mullins was seated at a table inside Pyle Student Center in order to provide information about the campaign and pass out little red ribbons for those who want to show support. Of the wages issue and the anticipated departures of faculty she said, “And as much as people can say that they should then go elsewhere, we as students don’t want to lose our faculty.”

Another of the student leaders, Chloe Mason, said social justice includes economic justice, and that economic justice is something the student activists are seeking right now for faculty and staff.

At the WC Community Conversation held on Collett Mall by the carillon, student organizer Lucy Enge said sharing one’s story can be a catalyst for change. She encouraged people to speak their voice and tell their story, and to also uplift the stories of those around them.

During the ongoing campus community activism, we can all keep in mind that some types of changes can’t be completed overnight, and moreover that Wilmington College is not wealthy. I’ve heard those points acknowledged by the Students for Action and Solidarity and by their supporters.

At the carillon event a faculty member there said what’s taking place is “a conversation about the needs of our daily lives, and that’s what we’re asking to have addressed.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at [email protected] or at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger

Staff columnist