Activism on campus is more than a march

Activism on campus is more than a march

Haley Vallejo


When I was preparing to attend the Women’s March, someone asked me: “What do you have to march for if you have everything you need?” It is a common idea that there is not much we have to fight for anymore. I wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment. It is not just about fighting for what I need, but for what others need as well. We should all strive to do more, to help others, and to improve the world we live in. I am an activist, because I recognize my privilege as an educated woman, and I want to use it to help others. I come from a hard-working Mexican family, and I was given the opportunity to expand my education. Although I come from an underrepresented community, I am aware that I am a privileged person and I can’t allow myself to reap the benefits when people like me do not have a voice. If I, as a woman and a minority, do not speak up against injustice, then who will? I need to be the voice I want to hear — not just for myself, but because I know there are people like me who need to hear it too. Activism plays a large role in my life, and I want to be in an environment where we lift each other up. 

Denim Day supports sexual assault awareness and is one of the Campus’ advocacy events.  COURTESY OF  WHITTIERCOLLEGEVIPCLUB

Denim Day supports sexual assault awareness and is one of the Campus’ advocacy events. COURTESY OF WHITTIERCOLLEGEVIPCLUB

Being an activist on campus matters. People tend to associate activism with rallies and demonstrations. Even though those are important, being an activist in a community is more than that. Part of being an activist, especially when considering the impact of it at Whittier College, is understanding different backgrounds and identities and being able to listen to what communities have to say. Educate yourself and engage with others to ignite change. Never stop talking to people and sharing what you are passionate about. 

I appreciate the opportunity Whittier College gives me to use my voice for issues that matter to me. Working at the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), I get to interact with like-minded people and bring discussions to campus. Bringing up these discussions is  important in order to create a safe space for people with marginalized identities and to open the College up to new ideas. The OEI is a place to educate  yourself on being a global citizen. Maybe it isn’t the College that creates an environment where I feel safe to speak up, but the students. I have felt supported by other students in my efforts on campus. 

Recently, I went to a training for undocumented students on campus, along with other student leaders. As we sat there learning how to be allies, I saw how much power the students really had. We gathered to discuss ways to better provide resources for other students. It is just another example of how we can use our resources on campus and in life to help others and be their ally. I know I still have much to learn about social justice, but the important thing is that communities are being heard, and there are changes being made.