SFER Club Spreads the Word about Education on Campus

Josephine Adamski

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Students For Education Reform is a national student-lead organization dedicated to spreading awareness about educational reform and education injustice. Whitman College’s chapter was established with ASWC in the spring of 2013 by seniors Claire Collins and Sara Sonnenblick in order to create an outlet for those who are interested in education. Throughout the years, SFER has held events that promote, discuss and educate about K-12 education reform.

Contributed Photo

The club has had success bringing awareness to local education reform issues and educational reform as a whole on campus. This has been done through events such as “A Conversation about Teach for America,” which was an evening dedicated to talking about the pros and cons of the Teach For America program. Among their most recent projects was their first annual book drive, where they collected 438 books to donate to families and children in Walla Walla.

“I think [SFER] has just given individuals a strong place to get involved with things they are really passionate about. It’s a good opportunity for students to expand their interests while simultaneously helping the community around us. It’s bringing a new topic to Whitman campus. It’s different than the classes you can take here, but it’s also really relevant,” said sophomore President of SFER Michael Augustine.

Not only does the club bring awareness to topics of education and educational reform on Whitman campus and Walla Walla, but the club allows those who have an interest in education and educational reform to engage in the topic on a national level.

“What I think makes SFER special is that it is a national organization. So while our goals here at Whitman may be different than other SFER chapters, we all have the same goal, to address inequality in education nationally. It is a real community,” said Director of Events for SFER Catherine Bayer.  

Among their most recent projects was their first annual book drive. From March 31-April 11 SFER collected books to distribute to families and children in Walla Walla. This included placing bins in residence halls and around campus to encourage book donations. On Tuesday, April 22 they donated 483 books to the community. The book drive was organized by Bayer, who was inspired during her time in February at the SFER National Summit in Los Angeles. 

The summit hosted chapters from all over the country and showed me what an impact college chapters can make. I immediately decided I wanted to tackle the issue of literacy in Walla Walla and came up with the book drive idea,” said Bayer.  

SFER has been campaigning for the passing of the Wa-Hi Bond. The bond failed yesterday, April 22, with a 52 percent voting approval where a 60 percent supermajority was required to pass. The bond was a $10.2 million proposal that would have funded a new science building at Walla Walla High School.

The current science building is the oldest academic building in Washington that hasn’t been remodeled. With this bond, the school would have been able to update the building to today’s standards and put it in a better condition for the students.

To help pass this bond and spread awareness, SFER went door-to-door and asked to put signs up in people’s lawns in order to create awareness about the topic. SFER wants to make the issue relevant to everyone in the community, not just those who have children in the school system.

In the future, the club looks forward to continue to establish its presence on campus.

“It’s been productive in a sense that it’s very new, and we started off with a small but dedicated group of members and a strong executive team. We have done a good job running some really cool events. With small resources, we have done a lot, and I’m looking forward to expanding that base and getting more people involved,” said Augustine.

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