Activism Workshop educates, inspires students to make difference

Geneseo alumnus and Organizing Director of the Service Employment International Union Chris Machanoff ‘06 and professor of history Emilye Crosby hosted an Activism Workshop on Friday Feb. 17. During the workshop, students were broken up into six groups and were assigned a specific topic to discuss. 

Students introduced themselves and shared issues they were passionate about within the first hour; they then were separated into their respective groups. Students discussed possible future events and workshops for the specific issue at hand. 

Everyone regrouped during the last hour and presented their topics. Two students from each group shared the topics they discussed and the workshops that they would like to host to educate the Geneseo students on the matter. 

Crosby has been working toward activism on campus since she became a Geneseo faculty member in 1995. 

“As a faculty member, one of the things that I try to do is bring people to campus who have been involved in the Civil Rights Movement so that they can speak about their experiences,” Crosby said. “My experience in the past is that students respond well to that.”

Knowing his experience with social justice issues, Crosby contacted Machanoff to collaborate and to create a unique opportunity for students. 

Together, Crosby wishes to build a foundation that encourages students to pursue and to promote different types of activism on campus. Machanoff has been involved with social justice work since 2006. 

“We wanted to bring people together so they could connect and talk about strategies to use to address the issues of concern,” Crosby said.

Some students expressed their concerns with the success of social activism at the workshop and on what they hope to see come out of it. 

“I feel that the problem with every social movement is the maintenance and progress of the mass of people that fight for the same cause,” history major freshman Amber Mayo said. “So the results I want to see are consistency, conciseness and clearness in what we are fighting for.” 

After the workshop, students expressed their motivation to host their own events. English major junior Hannah Embry talked about a possible teach-in for the future. Faculty members could cancel classes and encourage discourse amongst students about their social injustice experiences, according to Embry.

“It’s still in its baby phase, but the intention is to have a space to have one-on-one basic introductory level into what is going on such as immigration and LGBTQ+ issues,” Embry said. “To have faculty involvement is key in order to communicate to the students that they’re involved.”

The activism workshop accomplished its purpose to give students the chance to formulate ideas of possible future events dealing with social issues. 

The ideas shared by students ranged from holding open discussion meetings to having rallies and protests around campus. The workshop also gave students the opportunity to learn about what steps they need to take when they pursue their own social justice events. 

“A lot of times, people have an idea that they want to do something, but they don’t know what the next step is,” Crosby said. “I was hoping that bringing people together with somebody who organizes would help them think about what some next steps would be that they could take.”

Geography major senior Tori Roberts left the workshop looking forward to the future social justice events that will be hosted on campus.

“I’m hoping that people will be motivated to band together and become one group that’s all working for social justice issues and collaborating with one another,” Roberts said.