Activism 101

Whitman faculty organize political action teach-inin

Maggie Chang, Staff Reporter

Whitman professors put on a political activism workshop in Olin Auditorium on Monday.

Yann Dardonville, a first year Whitman student involved with Divest Whitman, said before the workshop that, “I hope to learn initiatives that I can join that are in the region, ways to approach political issues, to know how to make an impact in the community.”

The workshop was targeted towards those who don’t have much experience in political activism and might find it intimidating or confusing. It offered ideas and advice on how to involve oneself effectively in the political scene. Whitman Professors Devon Wootten, Elizabeth Vandiver and Timothy Kaufman-Osborn discussed key aspects of political activism, like how to make effective phone calls to state representatives, how to write letters to news organizations and what to expect when organizing or participating in a protest.

Whitman alumni Sarah Koenigsberg ‘02, also spoke at the workshop. She used her organization Walla Walla Indivisible to illustrate the importance of branching out and taking action.

“I feel like I see both how fabulous this community is and how fragmented and divided it is,” she said. “Students can be a powerful voice for change. They always have been.”

Having lived in Walla Walla for 15 years after graduating from Whitman, Sarah has the perspective of both a Walla Walla local as well as that of a Whitman student.

She said, “I would see it benefitting our community and all of our youth in the long run if we can find ways to build bridges and see what we have in common rather than focus on what we have separate.”

Since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, there has been a swell of political activism on Whitman’s campus.

Devon Wootten, Director of the Language Learning Center at Whitman said, “I’ve seen more students be involved and care since the election than I ever have. I hope that this level of engagement continues so even if both houses go blue in the midterms, I hope that students keep the pressure on even the more liberally-leaning democrats to support the most vulnerable and to speak out against racism and homophobia.”

“I think there’s a feeling among the faculty,” Wootten said. “How do we use our particular set of skills to encourage and to support student activity?”