About the Oak Student Committee:
The Oak Student Committee (OSC) allows Colby undergraduates to become integrally involved in the Institute and its programming. The committee is the primary link between the Fellow and the student body, organizing formal meetings and more casual encounters over meals or through field trips. Even when the Fellow is not present on campus, OSC members help plan and execute Oak events. Through participation on this committee, students gain a better understanding of international human rights issues and learn key skills involved in human rights advocacy.
2014-2015 Oak Student Committee:
Grace DeNoon (co-chair)
Divya Bisht (co-chair)
Javier Moneterroso Montenegro
Katrina von Hahn
Recent Oak Student Committee Projects:
In the spring, the Oak Student Committee continued their work despite the absence of the Oak Fellow. Their most ambitious program included inviting “Darkmatter,” a New York-based, South Asian transgender art and activist collaboration comprised of Janani Balasubramanian and Alok Vaid-Menon. Using poetry & polemic, tweet & tirade, the duo is committed to an art practice of gender self(ie) determination, racial justice, and movement building. The Oak Student Committee hosted the event, and garnered support from a number of campus organizations. The Dark Matter performance, in particular, was highly successful in that it attracted a big audience and generated visibility for Oak. But it also provoked strong, often emotional reactions from some members of the audience due to its controversial content and edgy presentation. Oak student leaders, as well as Director Hatch, quickly realized that a debriefing was necessary, and one was held within days of the event.
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.