A new campus group is taking a two-pronged approach to help the victims of genocide in Dafur, a region of Sudan.
Will Work for Food, which is headed by LSA junior Jeremy Davidson and LSA sophomore Josh Cohen, says their group is different from others on campus because its approach includes both work and advocacy.
“So far, no one on campus has taken a systematic approach to advocacy,” Davidson said. “A significant part of our approach is that it is adaptable to other projects.”
Starting today, students will be able to purchase a T-shirt that says “Working to Save Lives in Darfur, 1 Hour at a Time” in residence halls and Central Campus buildings like Angell Hall.
The shirts cost $10 – $5 of which will go to Darfur relief through the American Jewish World Service’s Darfur Action Campaign.
By purchasing a shirt, students also promise to raise $10 for Darfur by doing community service work.
“It doesn’t have to be manual labor,” Davidson said. “It can be as simple as tutoring a fellow student.”
Davidson said he wants students to voice their concern by sending postcards or making phone calls to their representatives in Congress. The group will offer pre-addressed postcards to students who need help contacting government officials.
“There are 40,000 people on this campus,” said Davidson, a former news editor and summer editor in chief at The Michigan Daily. “That’s at least 40,000 letters to congressmen.”
There is already one group on campus that has been trying to draw attention to Darfur’s plight: the University’s chapter of Students Taking Action Now Darfur. LSA senior Maggie Glass, a STAND member, said she hopes the two groups can work together.
LSA junior Justin Benson, who drew up the group’s constitution last week, said he was enthusiastic about the new method.
“The two-pronged approach is great because it is an innovative and effective way of addressing both the long and short-term issues surrounding Darfur,” he said. “While our overall goal is to address the short-term effects, advocacy ensures that we put pressure on the government and deal with the long term problems as well.”
Davidson and Hillel executive director Michael Brooks decided to create the group over breakfast and racquetball last semester, Davidson said.
Members of the organization said that they have gotten positive feedback from students on campus.
“I’ve had friends I haven’t seen for months calling to ask about WWFF,” Cohen said. “They all really want to get involved and it’s great to know that.”
Will Work For Food’s leaders also hope to expand the group’s model around the country, using the University as a template.