Express Yaself! promotes collaboration, activism

After supporting a variety of student organizations in their on-campus events, Students Against Social Injustice hosted its first event, an exposition and performance entitled “Express Yaself!” on Thursday Feb. 26. Attended by eight official organizations and dozens of students, the event was utilized to establish SASI as a more well-known organization while promoting awareness of a variety of social issues. “We’re surprised no one has done this yet,” SASI president sophomore Sasha Miller said. “Everybody has a dinner, everybody has a poetry slam, everybody has something like that so we wanted to bring something new to the table.”

The event allowed other on-campus organizations to sign up for tabling and promote their own activism agendas. Despite initial belief, however, not all the organizations that participated were strictly rooted in social justice. In attendance were Black Student Union, Pride Alliance, Women’s Action Coalition, Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development, Geneseo Environmental Organization, Peace Action Geneseo, Royal Lady Knights and Genesee Valley Cooperative.

“We thought this could be a way for clubs to bring materials and bring petitions and to really do something,” SASI vice president junior Ashley Ramos said.

Each group brought material on issues ranging from body image to ISIS to literacy in America. Students signed petitions, held conversations and exchanged learning materials.

“You’re still being very educated without feeling like you’re being educated,” Ramos said. The thought-provoking nature of the event continued through the performance aspect, with a total of seven acts that centered on social justice. These acts included mostly singing and poetry.

“It gives them a platform to showcase themselves and their talents,” Ramos said. Miller added that in the future, they hope to expand the artistic aspect of the event to include artwork and skits.

SASI was thrilled to put on this event having only been a club for two years. This was its first independent event. SASI collaborated in the past with cultural groups, the Study Abroad Office and most notably, the protests following last year’s events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island.

“I think the connections we made in the die-in allowed for this event to happen,” Ramos said. Along with Miller, Ramos stressed the importance of collaboration that made this event a success.

SASI hopes to expand the event in the future, particularly in location and attendance. It was held in the Knightspot, but the group expects to hold it in the College Union Ballroom next year. Miller also added that SASI wants to include “more clubs that don’t have to have social justice in their constitution.”

The event’s overall goal was to bring students with a variety of interests together to learn about the dozens of issues that society currently faces.

“It’s done in such a way where you’re not even realizing that you’re learning so much information,” Ramos said. “The whole point was to go there, have a fun time, but to leave informed.”