Students were reminded of their rights on Saturday in the School of Social Work Building was centered around personal civil liberties and issues such as rights for protestors, self-care and bystander intervention for sexual assault. 

“Know Our Rights” was born out of an idea pioneered by seven LSA students, who each met with lawyers, professors and community members over the course of several weeks to figure out what they, as students, could do to make an impact at the University of Michigan. 

LSA senior ’Dolapo Adeniji, one of the original organizers, said the community emphasis surrounding the event was core to the mission of the organizers — the education and empowerment of others in an uncertain political environment.

“It started as Know Your Rights, but the more we talked about it, we wanted it to be Know Our Rights because it’s very important that it is a community type of thing going on here,” Adeniji said. “It’s not only about me knowing how to assert my rights, but knowing how to assert the rights of others.”

Students from all 19 colleges at the University and Ann Arbor community members were in attendance. LSA sophomore Will Krause said he attended because he was looking to be more informed given the increased amount of political activism following the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

“I want to learn a bit more knowledge about the rights of various people,” Krause said. “There are a lot of things like protestor rights that are very specific, and knowing more about that would be very cool.”

Another event attendee, Engineering sophomore Jovana Paripovic, echoed Krause’s sentiments regarding the importance of being knowledgable amid current political climate. 

“I feel like we should all come together because there are a lot of controversial things going on out there,” Paripovic said.

When asked about the racist and anti-Semitic and emails sent out to computer science and engineering students a few weeks ago, Paripovic noted she believes they failed to create racial division on campus.

“If anything, I think it really brought us closer together,” she said. Paripovic also said the positive response from students on campus made her think, “I am so lucky to be part of an inclusive community.”

During the event, the organizers announced the creation of the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign — an initiative that aims to distribute pins with different messages to spread awareness about social justice issues and inform others they are allies.

“We wanted to do something that you couldn’t just wear and get away with not doing anything,” Adeniji explained. “That’s why it’s a self-select thing. You have to read it before you take it. It’s really important that people don’t just wear this pin just because.”

Adeniji said the pins will include messages that have the slogan “I’ve got your back”. A piece of paper will be attached to each pin that contains messages like: “I will not be a passive bystander,” “I will take care of you,” “I can walk/drive you home,” “I’ve got your back” and “You matter.”

LSA senior Julia Gaynor, another member of the original group of students who organized the event said she hopes the event will eventually transpire into a full-on organization.

“We are hoping that the (I’ve Got Your Back) campaign will be sustainable and that it will form a student organization in the future,” she said. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.