Under the leadership of seniors Grace DeNoon’15 and Divya Bisht ’15, the Student Committee grew dramatically to encompass 32 members. In the fall, Oak students organized a number of events to introduce the Oak Fellow, Clare Byarugaba, to the Colby community. Likewise, a smaller subset of students traveled with the Fellow to Boston for Amnesty International’s Annual Northeast Regional Conference. Faculty, staff and students associated with the Institute worked tirelessly in 14-15 to raise and explore important issues about human rights violations against women and sexual minorities – in Uganda, in the United States, and all places in between. The Oak Student Committee collaborated closely with other groups on campus, including The Bridge, the Pugh Community Board, and the Arts and Humanities Center to host a wonderful mix of events. These included an introductory lecture, conducted by the Fellow, introducing Uganda’s anti-gay law, institutionalized violence and homophobia, and the ongoing activist efforts of the LGBT community. The Oak Institute welcomed Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams for a screening of his latest documentary film, “God Loves Uganda,” about the export of homophobia from the U.S. by conservative evangelical Christians. The Student Committee invited the Colby community to the slam poetry performance by “Sister Outsider,” a feminist duo consisting of Denice Frohman and Dominique Christina, the two leading female spoken word artists in America, and facilitated an interactive workshop prior to the performance.
In the spring, the OSC, led by co-chairs Leah Breen ’15 and Katie Allan ’15, hosted a series of formal and informal events that covered a wide range of topics. Events included a lunchtime discussion with Professor Gail Carlson on activism at Colby; a screening of the documentary Wham! Bam! Islam!; a lunchtime discussion with Professor Laura Seay on Rwanda 20 years post-genocide; a Skype conversation with activist John Currelly on development in Haiti; an event entitled Stories Across Borders that provided a space for Colby students to share their stories of immigration; an immigrant support panel with representatives from Hope Acts and the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project as well as two recent immigrants; a dinner discussion on the World Cup in Brazil and its effects on human rights in the country; a discussion on Voluntourism; a human rights Open Mic Night; and several dinner discussions on human rights in current affairs in conjunction with Colby’s Amnesty International chapter.
Throughout this semester, the Student Committee organized a variety of events as part of a month-long Immigrant Rights campaign, including three lunchtime talks with professors from a wide array of disciplines to facilitate discussion on immigration, as well as a forum for students who have experience with immigration at which they told their stories.
To conclude a month of meaningful discussion and story-telling, the OSC organized a panel of three Maine immigration rights activists.
In September, the OSC helped the 2011 Oak Fellow, Fatima Burnad, plan her initial address to the college as a part of the event entitled: “Untouchability” and Human Rights: Fighting Poverty and the Caste System in India.” Four Student Committee members attended a conference at Harvard concerning poverty and the Millenium Development Goals. Throughout the semester, the Student Committee helped organize a dinner and lecture featuring Anirudh Krishna for the event titled: “One Illness Away: Global Poverty and Human Rights”, hosted a screening of “Living Broke in Boom Times” to raise awareness about poverty in the United States, planned a dinner and lecture featuring Jesse Leah Vear from Maine-based POWER entitled “Poverty in America: An Economic Human Rights Perspective”, and hosted a dinner honoring Fatima and her work at Colby.