Social Action Projects- Spring 2018

Social Change in the 21st Century is an Honors Seminar that focuses on contemporary social change in the US. Students worked in groups throughout the semester to enact one social change campaign at Minnesota State Mankato or in the greater Mankato community. They developed group contracts to agree how to make decisions, chose an issue to work on, performed background research, identified their goals and planned out the most effective strategies and tactics to meet those goals. Throughout the process they were asked to articulate how they were applying course content (social movement histories, theories, and activism insights) to their projects. You can read about each of their projects here and follow the link at the end of each summary to read their final project wrap-ups if you want more information.

#SEEUS : The Underrepresentation of Female Athletes


Mellary Jayathunge, Samuel Oluwadoromi, Olivia Thompson and Callie Rohlik brought attention to female athletes by bringing the #SEEUS movement to campus. They explain the beginning of the movement:

The campaign was created by Courtney Place, a female volleyball athlete for Augustana University and an acquaintance of a group member. She initiated the movement because she was frustrated seeing female athletes reach incredible milestones and accomplishments, yet only receiving minimal recognition compared to male athletes. Courtney envisioned equality amongst all athletes, and our group desired to help her dream be a reality.

The campaign focused on education and outreach. It included a photo booth to get supportive students to take pictures and help popularize #SEEUS  on social media. To get the word out about this issue they produced posters that highlight current female athletes at Minnesota State Mankato, the underrepresentation of female athletes at Minnesota State Mankato, and alerted people to the photo booth and outreach day. Their project was covered by the Student Union paper. You can check out that article here.

You can learn more about the campaign, their collective action frame, and the social movement theories that inspired them in their project summary report! Read the full project summary here.

Primary Prevention of Sexual Assault – sign the pledge!

Ibelizet Dominguez, Dylan Jech, Rebecca Peterson, and Ashley Schmitz were concerned with stopping sexual assaults in the Manakto community. They focused their campaign on education and primary prevention strategies. After researching effective interventions and the impact sexual assault has on individuals and communities they chose primary prevention as a route for change. As they describe here:

“While there are various methods that are used to combat sexual assaults, primary prevention aims to change the systematic cultural occurrence by placing responsibility onto potential perpetrators in order to prevent future sexual assaults. Even though primary prevention methods are effective in practice, society has grown accustomed to risk reduction tactics as a way to end sexual assaults…These tactics put the responsibility on the potential victim to interrupt or stop an assault that is in progress.”

Their primary action was to attend the event called Give Back the Night at Pub 500, organized by the Women’s Center at Minnesota State Mankato. With an audience of men committed to ending sexual violence against women, they handed out ribbons to be worn at the forthcoming Take Back the Night Event, provided educational literature, gave a talk, handed out buttons that say “KNOW MORE” and launched a pledge campaign:

“Pledges the size of business cards were designed and distributed in hope that men would sign them, making promises to the following: “I pledge: to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls, to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, yes means yes, to create an environment in which survivors are supported, listened to and believed, and to speak out for healthy, respectful manhood against sexism.” Along with signing and living by these pledges, our group challenged males to support the movement by learning more about the issue, and to distribute more pledges to others in their demographic. We hope that these physical, visual signs of support will continue to be present after the initial event, and especially at Take Back the Night.”

You can learn more about the campaign, their collective action frame, and the social movement theories that inspired them in their project summary report! Read the full project summary here!

Out with the Bottle, In with the Box!

Mackenzie Dockendorf, Anna Hagan, Madison Hoffman,  Ugochi Nwachukwu state the impetus behind their project well:

“Around 30 million plastic water bottles are consumed in the United States each year, and around 80% of those end up in a landfill or in the ocean. Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only around 38 disposable water bottles were recycled. After performing research on our campus, we concluded that the excessive use of plastic increased our carbon footprint and contributed to the degradation of the environment. The current environmental sustainability plan at Minnesota State University, Mankato is lacking a section addressing the excessive plastic use and waste on campus. We decided to address this issue by formulating a campaign to bring boxed water on campus as an alternative to single use plastic bottled water. During this campaign, we utilized the concepts of spheres of influence, communicative rationality, and mobilizing structures to establish this campaign on campus and to make boxed water a reality in the near future.”

To work toward this goal these activists developed a petition to as the university, Dining Services, and Sodexo, to bring boxed water to campus. They tabled in the student union to raise awareness and get signatures, wrote a letter to Sodexo, and met with Dining Services. Importantly, they have also identified members of the Student Government to give their research and resources to so they can continue working on this issue in the coming year. Their campaign was featured in the Student Union blog as well.

You can check out that article here.

You can sign their petition here.

You can also learn more about the campaign, their collective action frame, and the social movement theories that inspired them in their project summary report! Read the full project summary here!

Bystander Intervention Trainings at Student Orientations

As the Minnesota State University systems implements an “Affirmative Consent” policy, we still have many students who are both victims and perpetrators of sexual violence. Jenna Dunnum, Linh Hoang, Omoleso Ogunnowo, Nicole Piowlski want to be sure that all students get adequate information and training on this topic. As they describe:

“Through the research that we had done for background information on our issue, it seemed that the main issue contributing to sexual assault everywhere, not just on campus, was people’s aversion to discussing such a touchy subject. The silence about the issue has contributed to harmful misconceptions about sexual assault such as rape myths, the tendency to victim blame, and confusion about what sexual assault involves. Dismantling these stigmas about the issue is the first step in making progress toward fixing it. Our approach to accomplishing this is made apparent through what we wanted to include in our training. Part of our training would involve education about rape myths and stigmas surrounding sexual assault and active trainings in self-defense. Another significant component of our training focused on bystander intervention. When people are more confident in what to do during these situations, they are more likely to intervene. This training was meant to give students that confidence to help if they need to. Doing a more comprehensive training that is in-person as opposed to the online module currently in place would be more competent in opening up the discussion we need to be having about sexual assault on campus. The first step in solving this issue is making people more aware of it, silence is compliance and to make a difference, we need to speak out.”

The students met with about eight people across five offices on campus and were able to meet with the Provost of the University, Marilyn Wells. They prepared a presentation and educated administration about the need for longer in-person bystander intervention trainings at student orientation. They have identified people to continue moving this campaign forward in the future. After the petition was released, the students received messages of thanks and stories from survivors on our own campus, highlighting the need to keep this campaign moving forward, so please sign their petition.

You can also learn more about the campaign, their collective action frame, and the social movement theories that inspired them in their project summary report! Read the full project summary here!

Adopt, Don’t Shop!

Are you bothered that dog and cat breeders are making money off of selling companion animals while over 4 million animals are euthanized in shelters each year? Karla Balbuena, Petra Camus, and John Shrestha are, so they started a campaign to ban the sale of dogs from puppy mills in the state of Minnesota. Finding no other petition in Minnesota on the topic, the students developed a petition to Governor Mark Dayton. Their petition demands:

“Ban Puppy Mill sales all over Minnesota! Help us stop the selling of puppy mill dogs in the following counties Anoka, Ramsey, Rice Becker, Roseau Counties!”

They shared the petition with the local shelter, BENCHS, so they can continue to the campaign if there are future opportunities to ask the state to enact such. They also tabled in the CSU to gather signatures and educate students about puppy mills, the importance of adopting over shopping, and to raise awareness about the issue on social media.

Sign the petition here!

You can also learn more about the campaign, their collective action frame, and the social movement theories that inspired them in their project summary report! Read the full project summary here!




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