6 Things Students Can Do Today (Other Than Donating)
Students don’t have much spending power. Though donating to progressive organizations is incredibly important, most students I know can donate a small sum of money every few months and then are out of commission on the donating front for some time. Consequently, whenever I read articles titled “X Things You Can Do Right Now,” and realize every item on the list costs money, I feel pretty unfulfilled.
I put together this list together with students in mind. These are 5 things you can do right now to fight Trump’s hateful agenda, other than donating.
Help find Refuge Restrooms.
Refuge Restrooms is a website and a smartphone application one can use to find the nearest gender neutral restroom. Transgender people, especially transgender women of color, face huge rates of violence in the United States. This violence has increased in the last year in large part due to the introduction of “bathroom bills” in red states, bills aimed at prohibiting trans people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender. It is very possible that under a Trump presidency, we could see the introduction of a federal “bathroom bill,” prohibiting transgender people from using public facilities. Regardless, violence against trans people in bathrooms may increase. Refuge Restrooms is a great resource, because it allows trans people to skirt the gendered restroom issue entirely and find a single stall gender neutral bathroom they may feel safer in.
How you can help: Download the app, grab some friends, and walk around your area looking for gender neutral bathrooms! Refuge Restrooms has a simple form on both the app and the website for submitting any bathrooms you find. This action is especially helpful if you live in a rural or suburban area or a conservative city, where there might be fewer bathrooms already registered!
Nominate women you respect to run for office.
Promote progressive ideas on a local stage, all while helping to shatter the glass ceiling! She Should Run is a nonprofit organization that works to get more women to consider running for public office. They provide resources for women considering a run for office and connect them to a greater community. The She Should Run community is not only open to women currently planning a run for office but also to women who may consider the option at some point in the future.
How you can help: Ask a progressive woman you respect to consider running for office using She Should Run’s nomination form. She could be a peer at your college, someone from high school, a public figure you admire in your community, etc. This kind of positive affirmation can be the encouragement someone needs to take the plunge!
Recommend an LGBT college student for the Point Foundation Scholarship.
The Point Foundation Scholarship is awarded to an out LGBT college student who has demonstrated leadership and has financial need. If the student attends community college, they must be intending to transfer to a four year university. The scholarship is open to college students of any age.
How you can help: Recommend an applicant here! LGBT people are among the most at risk in a Trump administration. Help a kick ass student thrive and receive money to finish their education.
Save your Congressperson’s number in your phone, and call them regularly.
Calling your Congressperson is one of the most effective ways to influence U.S. policy! Emily Ellsworth, who used to work for Congress, wrote a guide on Twitter about how to get your Congressperson’s attention this week. Long story short: the best way to get your Congressperson’s attention is to call them! Aides are required to listen to you and be respectful, even if they disagree with your position. These aides take notes on what constituents call about over the course of the day then present these items as priorities to your representative.
How you can help: Use this website to find out who your representatives are (you have one House of Representatives member and two senators) and save their numbers in your phone. Call your representatives to talk about the issues that matter most to you! Some ideas include DAPL, police violence, stop and frisk, sexual assault, religious freedom, “bathroom bills,” civil liberties for LGBT people, or restrictions on abortion rights. Be prepared to provide your street address, as this is how the office checks to see if you’re actually a constituent. If you have phone anxiety like I do, here are some scripts you can read.
Join (or start) organizations at your school.
Volunteering with a nonprofit is awesome, but chances are there is already great work being done on your campus! Many colleges have chapters of groups such as the NAACP, Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, Gay Straight Alliance, or the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan on campus, among others. These groups work tirelessly to provide support to students on campus, educate students about issues in the community, and participate in direct action bothon and off campus.
How you can help: If you’re not already involved in campus activism, find out when meetings are for one of these groups and attend a meeting! If you’re already involved in activism with one organization, try attending a meeting for another group. Do your best to make time to stick with the organization, but at the least, sign up for their email list so you can stay in the loop about various actions. If you’re in high school or attend a smaller university that doesn’t already chapters of these groups on campus, start one! You can reach out to representatives from another chapter of the organization for advice (usually you can find student leaders’ names with a quick Google search: “Gay Straight Alliance UC Berkeley”) or reach out to the national organization.
Please note: If you attend a meeting of an organization for a community you are not a part of, be conscious of the amount of space you take up in the room. In other words, if you’re a white person who attends a Black Student Union meeting, or a straight person checking out the Gay Straight Alliance, don’t make the meeting about yourself. Try to sit back and listen during your first meeting. If you’re not as up to speed on issues as the rest of the group, write down any questions you may have and do some research on your own after the meeting. These organizations welcome new members of any background, but first and foremost their time and energy is intended to support members of their own community, not to educate you!
Reach out to people who do have the means to donate.
With just your phone and social media, you can help organizations fundraise! Even if we don’t have the means to donate much, chances are there is someone in our extended networks who does. Texts to wealthy friends or family, emails to listservs, or shares on social media can go a long way towards helping an organization raise funds.
How you can help: Share organizations’ donate links on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or other social media. Email out donate links to your school listservs. If you have connections to wealthy friends or family, reach out to them with a personal message and ask them to donate!