Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on the STAND blog. It highlights the power of partnership between students and the ability to create change within a college network. As our strongest student partner, STAND has helped us implement the conflict minerals movement on campuses across the country. Now, the Enough Project is working with STAND to promote a sign-on letter to Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold.
Last year, I met Chelsea Strelser when I attended my first meeting for William & Mary’s STAND chapter. Fresh off a summer internship with the Enough Project, I was excited to begin combating mass atrocities and genocide across the globe. Today, I am STAND’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer and Chelsea is the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) Campus Organizer for the same region. CFCI is is a nationwide campaign to build the student consumer voice for electronics free of minerals that finance conflict in eastern Congo. This semester, Chelsea and I have been working together to organize and promote actions that emphasize peace and security throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our collaboration as student organizers has been incredibly important for our work in the mass atrocities prevention movement.
Working with Chelsea has been fantastic. Because so many schools have STAND chapters, CFCI chapters, or both, our capacity for reaching out to student advocates and activists has increased. Our partnership has helped us reach out to new schools, build our mutual networks, and get the word out about exciting action opportunities that STAND and CFCI initiate.
One of our important collaborations is the campaign to get the Virginia Association of State College & University Purchasing Professional, the procurement board for Virginia public colleges, to pass a statewide conflict-free resolution. By pooling our resources and contacts, Chelsea and I have built a strong network of students across the state that will be invaluable in achieving this goal, and in building momentum around the long-term goal of a peaceful and secure eastern DRC.
Now, we’re coming together to advocate around another joint initiative. We’ve partnered to push forward a sign-on letter targeted at Russ Feingold, the newly appointed Special Envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region, urging him to make peace and security in Democratic Republic of Congo a priority. This is a critical moment in U.S. policy towards the DRC, and we’re calling for the promotion of regional cooperation, the growth of an active civil society, and security sector reform, as well as changing economic incentives from violence to peace. And we need your help.
We strongly urge you to sign this letter as a representative of your school. The more schools we can get signed on to the letter, the larger impact we will have. Moreover, we want you to be part of this international call for action! One lucky signatory will be chosen at random to hand deliver the letter to Special Envoy Feingold himself. Don’t miss this opportunity to hand deliver this letter, and represent our generation’s call for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo!
Chelsea and I believe that we can accomplish much more as a movement than as a single organization acting alone. We’ve seen this play out first hand at William & Mary and within our region. I believes that the STAND / CFCI relationship is crucial in order to maximize our shared desire for peace in the DRC.
Sign on to the letter to Special Envoy Russ Feingold now by entering your name, email, and school here and you will automatically be eligible to win the chance to represent the face of the student movement in Washington, DC. Let’s raise our collective voice for a peaceful and secure eastern Congo!
The Conflict-Free Campus Initiative is a project of Enough’s Raise Hope for Congo and STAND.
Please contact CFCI Coordinator Annie Callaway at [email protected] with any questions about the letter to Special Envoy Feingold.
Photo: Special Envoy Feingold and Congolese President Joseph Kabila (CongoPlanet)