Right now, I am a junior in high school, busy organizing around AIDS
education, among other issues, both inside and outside of my school. However,
five years ago my situation was quite different. I knew that my school
did not have an adequate AIDS education curriculum or a condom distribution
plan, but I knew close to nothing about political organizing.
What I found was that Step One in organizing within your school
is making connections. There is most likely someone else in your school
who feels the way you do about this issue, so the key is finding him/her.
Of course, it usually helps to look in the more progressive student organizations
for potential AIDS education supporters. It is also critical to make as
many connections of support within the faculty and administration as you
can. Working with someone from these two areas on a regular basis will
give you insight into how the administration and faculty is handling the
work you are doing and also, hopefully, allow your group to have someone
sticking up for you and supporting your cause within the school power structure.
In addition to making connections with students and faculty who support
your cause, it is important to get involved with groups outside of your
school or at other schools that deal with the issue. I found YELL through
a student in my school who was a YELL member; involvement with YELL as
an outside group gave me many ideas and strategies as well as lots of experience
to bring back to the organizing I was doing at school.
Once you have networked and, hopefully, have
a few active supporters, you are ready to start assembling an action group.
Through working with various student organizations in my school, I was
able to assemble an action group of four people who work on direct action
and negotiation around AIDS education in my school. One student took it
upon herself to write up a petition which demanded a condom distribution
plan at our school. She got 80% of the student body to sign and shortly
after, the plan was approved by the school. Monitoring the school's progress,
or lack thereof, when it came to the implementation of this plan has been
my group's job.
Group maintenance is an important part of making your actions, whatever
they may be, successful. You should make an effort to meet on a regular
basis even if you aren't in a position where you are reacting to the administration.
There ar always other things that you could be doing on the education front
which may not seem to be as necessary or important as chaining yourself
to an administrator's door, but believe me, they are. Every effort should
be made to educate and keep the student body up-to-date on what the issue(s)
you're working on are and what the current situation around these issues
happens to be at the time. Remember, it never hurts to build interest and
support among your peers. It will most likely end up helping your cause.
How To Yell
How To Organize an Action At Your School
How To Get Condoms In Your School
It Worked In Our School!