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.

 

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