Campus Outreach 101

Here is my summary of how to be a campus activist these days. Hopefully it’s helpful to you! You can build in our campus!

1. Find other people that can help you.

a. Ask the group if they know other activists at your school, or reach out to the ones you know to convince them to help you.

b. Reach out to other student organizations or campus unions that you think may be sympathetic to your cause, e.g. graduate worker’s union, Students for Justice in Palestine, Feminists United, Campus Anti-War Network, campus socialists, Greens, anarchists, other folks who’ve been at Occupy from your campus, etc.

You might do this like so: find out when their meetings are and ask if you can go present to their membership about what you are organizing and if you can solicit their endorsement. Or–send an email to their contact person saying you are from ___ group on campus (CACHE, or Occupy ___ or whatever group you’re in) and why you think they might care about what we’re up to.

Ask the groups to endorse your event–meaning, to put their name on it, post your event details to their membership/contacts, and possibly hand out your event info when they table or put up their own flyers, etc.–or for individuals in that group to physically come help out.

c. Make an announcement at an Occupy Chicago GA that you are starting to organize on your campus, to find other students from your school who might want to help.

2. Call a time when these folks can get together to plan a division of labor, so you can break down the tasks into more reasonable chunks. You might find it helpful to use a scheduling tool like to do this.

3. Top ways to do outreach!

a. Make a flyer — CACHE will probably be a great resource for materials like this. Make sure it says the basic stuff–who’s organizing it/why/what time/location (including the name of the place and street address/building name and room number, especially if it will be used off campus at all)/contact info for your group.

b. Plan to put up the flyers on campus. Sometimes you need an official student group’s name on the flyer in order for it to be legit/not removed by campus bureaucrats. Hopefully you have a least one group that’s willing to put its name on the flyer for this purpose, if that’s a problem at your school. It’s great to put them up in lecture halls, student centers, bathrooms, posts outside, cafes, etc.

c. Find a place on campus that has a lot of foot traffic and where “free speech” is allowed. Arrange to go with someone else to hand out the flyers. These can be ½ sheets of the ones you put up. You can say things like “Do you think education is a right?” or “want to see an end to education debt?” as you hand them out, or “sign this petition for ___” It can be kind of hard to be confident to do this sometimes, because lots of people may pass you by. Focus on the people that seem interested.

d. Be sure to have a clipboard with you so that you can sign people up for your email list/text messaging, etc. Ask people if they want to get involved and join the cause. Utilize a google group so organized folks can stay in touch.

e. CHALK CHALK CHALK! You can get sidewalk chalk in the crafts/kids section of Target and probably lots of other places. It’s super fun to go out and make bold announcements in the pavement on campus–use a short slogan, the “what,” and the time/location details. This will complement the flyers and help people find you–especially while you are out doing the actual chalking. Best to go in the evening or in the early morning (not on a rainy/snowy day!). Also use 2 colors per letter, to ensure it’s bold and that it lasts through all the traffic it will be subjected to.

f. Utilize campus calendars (usually online), and post the event on there so people looking for things to do on campus can find you.

g. Social MediaFacebook/twitter/etc. Make a FB page or group (decide what’s best for your campus, as decided by the group) that you can use to do outreach–create event pages, share articles/videos, etc.

h. If your campus has a student newspaper, write an Op Ed or other opinion piece that you can send in, explaining why your group is doing what it’s doing, and how folks can plug into the action. If you can post an ad of some sort, even better.

i. Ditto for any campus radio stations. Find out who has the political/friendly to progressive politics radio shows, and figure out how to be a guest or do an interview on the show. Or see if you can get a Public Service Announcement to be read on the radio.

j. Make classroom announcements. Especially target classes that cover the civil rights movement/black power, women’s movement, labor history, radical social/economic/political theory, etc. You can do this by asking people in your group to make the announcements personally, or by asking instructors permission for someone from your group to come to the class to make the announcement. For instance–email the professor:

“My name is ___, and I’m with the group ___. We are organizing ___ and think people in your class ___ would be interested in attending. Is it OK if I (or ___ from our group) comes to your class to make a brief announcement and hand out flyers/send around a sign-up sheet/petition for your students to get involved?” This is a great way to develop relationships with supportive faculty on campus!