Organizations providing an outlet for student activism

Attendees of the Students for Human Rights Club meeting pose for a photo after a gathering in the Thad Cochran Center on September 14, 2022. | Photos: Sean Smith, SM2 Photo Editor

In these unprecedented times, some student organizations have stepped up to make a difference. MS Votes aims to make voting accessible to young people. Students for Human Rights looks to revamp its tradition of student activism. Generation Action wants to educate and organize students for reproductive rights. These three organizations provide outlets for students to support social justice causes right here on campus.  

The University of Southern Mississippi’s chapter of MS Votes was founded by senior Veronica Sigcho. Sigcho, who also serves as president, was inspired after learning just how few young people vote. “I’m not a citizen, so I cannot vote. That is really something that makes me feel almost hopeless,” she said. “Seeing that people that have the power to vote usually don’t use it, it’s kind of sad. It’s disappointing.”  

MSVUSM hopes to change that. Their first initiative will be a registration drive for Voter R

egistration Day on September 20, in collaboration with Generation Action and Greek organizations on campus. They will provide resources and instructions to get USM students registered to vote. They also have a list of activities planned for National Voter Education Week in October, aiming to educate young people about local politics. 

Their collaborator Generation Action is also focused on education and engagement. An affiliate through Planned Parenthood, the group defines itself as “a network of young organizers and activists across the country who organize events on their campuses and in their communities to mobilize advocates for reproductive freedom…”.    

They kicked off their semester with a letter writing party, which aims to encou

rage USM’s administration to take action against The Church at Jackson, a group of far-right Christian protestors on campus. “We believe that freedom of speech becomes questionable when students feel threatened, unsafe, or targeted by groups allowed on campus,” said an Instagram post describing the event.  

It is in line with their wider mission to be a space for students of all stripes. “We hope that everyone knows that this organization is not just about abortion or reproductive rights,” stated junior an

d Co-President Phoebe Stutts. “It’s also about creating a safe space for queer students, for students of color, for students of different orientations and religions.”  

Sophomore William Adams is President of Students for Human Rights, another broadly inclusive organization. SHR is under USM’s Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties. After a period of declining membership and activities, current president Will Adams took up the task of revitalizing the club. He even reached out to The Student Printz himself asking for promotion. 

SHR’s focus this semester is their Global Period Equity campaign. The plan is to do fundraising events throughout the semester to supply sustainable period products to people in Kenya. This includes holding a pop-up thrift store, with all proceeds going towards the campaign.  

Adams’ goal is to raise the club’s profile and make it a hub for student advocacy. “I feel like Southern Miss is a fantastic place for student advocacy,” he said. “…it’s more so the fact that there’s so many students across campus willing to take part in things that protect their human rights.”  

All three student leaders–Adams, Sigcho and Stutts–echoed the same vision. It is one of young people fostering an inclusivity and fulfilling an obligation to improve society for themselves and their communities. Stutts may have expressed this sentiment the best. “These are people that are gonna be making some of the biggest decisions that we will witness in our lifetimes, so these are the people that need to be paying attention,” she said.