Ran by students, for students, the Reno Justice Coalition is all about starting dialogue on issues of inequality and injustice to create change that stretches internationally, nationally, and locally. Within the university, this group has spoken out about their hopes to create change on campus by creating an atmosphere for students of all different types of backgrounds to succeed and prosper. The coalition has been critical to campus narratives, and are on a mission to diminish these problems through creating their own methods of discussion.
Many find that campus narratives do not truthfully represent the issues, perspectives, and stories of marginalized students — not only at this university, but throughout the world. The meeting held on Thursday, Sept. 20, included lots of brainstorming and engaging discussion among students on ideas to reclaim campus narratives with various types of content, including art, photography, personal essays, fiction, poetry, and many other outlets of expression.
As one of the leaders of the group, Audra Grey helped introduce the group’s newest publication project entitled Dissent and Solidarity.
“This is a publication by and for students and youth who have adverse experiences on campus because they are queer-identifying, immigrants or undocumented, people of color, or poor. Those who support our publication and plan to be contributors are students and youth who experience things that are often ignored or misrepresented when others are in charge of our stories,” Grey said.
Attendees of Thursday’s meeting passionately discussed what they felt needed to be apart of this inclusive publication. Bouncing ideas off one another, attendees started off the publication process in the best possible way. Written across a whiteboard were topics ranging from consent and assault, empowering women of color, the history of student activism on campus and creating queer comics that include happy endings.
The supportive and collaborative environment the students created directly embodied goals to have Dissent and Solidarity become a publication, so students feel safe to tell their stories through any expressive avenue they choose. Grey, along with the other attendees, kept their goals for the publication in mind while expressing their wishes for how they want to create new conversations that are not portrayed often in mainstream media.“Our goals with this publication are to educate people about the histories of racial, gender, sexual, and class-based oppression and the subsequent social movements that rose to combat disenfranchisement,” Grey said. “Our work aims to expose present-day systemic barriers, like institutionalized racism, anti-queer hate, poverty, that deny us academic success and personal well-being as young people on this campus.”
Grey also expressed excitement for the work that has already been submitted to the publication, as well as the student ideas that plan to be featured.
“The work that students have submitted to us so far is very empowering,” she said. “One article gives a brief history of white supremacist hate groups in Nevada and on the UNR campus. Another student is giving testimony about their experience being racially profiled, harassed, and falsely accused by UNR police. Several students are submitting illustrations emphasizing the importance of self-care and the importance of solidarity between marginalized communities.”
Open to all students who want to add their own voices to the movement, Dissent and Solidarity is looking for all different kinds of content for their Fall 2018 issue. The deadline for all submissions is on Saturday, Nov. 10, and they are projecting their release date to be on Saturday, Dec. 1. Along with Dissent and Solidarity, the RJC is also hosting a teach-in on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. in the William Raggio Building Room, 2008. This teach-in is projected to educate attendees on all aspects of the 2018 prison strike and creating more dialogue on this particular event.
With the success of the first meeting and the abundance of new ideas to soon come into fruition, Grey and other members of the Reno Justice Coalition are hoping for more student participation, and for others to recognize the true power of student advocacy.
“Many of us feel a sense of urgency to create our own conversations about how to make campus a safer and more accessible to everyone,” she said, “because if we don’t advocate for ourselves and create the change we need to thrive, no one else is going to do it for us.”