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)
Andrew Lau
Anne Kettler
Anne Vetter
Anognya Parthasarathy
Aquib Yacoob
Cara Goldfarb
Cassandra Smith
Christina Thomas
Eleanor Powell
Emma Brown
Javier Moneterroso Montenegro
Jenny Qiu
Joe Long
Katie Allan
Katrina Belle
Katrina von Hahn
Kay DeGraw
Leah Breen
Lily Crane
Mackenzie Kennedy
Madochee Bozier
Megan Lasher
Phuong Le
Rubez Chong
Sam Chase
Sarah Peck
Shona McCarthy
Sophia Bartels
Tashi Palmo
Thabile Ncube

Recent Oak Student Committee Projects:

Oak Student Committee Voluntourism Event

Spring 2014:

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.

Fall 2013:

In the fall, the Student Committee, led by co-chairs Grace DeNoon ’15 and Leah Breen ’15, organized events to introduce the 2013 Oak Fellows and their young daughter to Maine and to Colby. The Oak Student Committee and the Oak Fellows went apple picking at a local orchard, hosted an evening of cooking apple pie, visited the Common Ground Country Fair, held an Oak Fellow Meet & Greet for the student body, cooked Burmese food, and celebrate Halloween. The OSC partnered with Colby’s Amnesty International chapter to organize an event in which the Oak Fellows shared their personal stories. The OSC and Colby Amnesty organized a trip to Amnesty International’s Northeast Regional Conference, at which the Oak Fellows led a workshop that was facilitated by a Student Committee member. The OSC and GS111 campaigned at Colby to raise awareness about issues faced by the Rohingya as well as issues of democracy in Myanmar. Together they created an online petition to release one of the Oak Fellows’ fathers from prison in Myanmar, where he is a prisoner of conscience. They also personally delivered a letter and signed petition to Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski to increase US pressure on the government of Myanmar to release prisoners of conscience and grant legal rights to Rohingya people. Malinowski promised that the State Department is working to pressure the Burmese government to release the prisoners.

Spring 2012:

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.

The Student Committee also organized a week focused on internal displacement. Throughout this week, the Committee hosted a screening of Colby Alum’s Tarini Manchanda ’09 ten minute documentary titled “Game On,” a film about displacement during the 2011 Common Wealth Games in India. The Committee also organized a workshop on internal displacement in conjunction with Dumela, an organization founded by Colby Alum, Escar Kusema. The Student Committee also helped organize an official Invisible Children screening of Kony 2012 Part 1 and Part 2, which included a space for open discussion of the film and this type of media-fueled activism. At the end of the semester, the OSC created an exhibit introducing the 2012 Oak Fellow, Zandile Nhlengetwa of South Africa, to the Colby community.

Fall 2011:

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.