There are so many people at Principia College who love to help the world, doing fantastic things to “bless all mankind.” However, there are also a large number of Prin students who don’t know what they can do to help the world now. While in class or reading the news, college students are constantly bombarded with world issues. It’s very easy to feel helpless and think, “There’s nothing I can really do right now.”
But there is something you can do right now.
A new club has surfaced on campus called Amnesty International. This club is one small branch of “a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights,” according to the group’s website. “Essentially, it’s about building pressure for change in a way that says, across all nations, we will not turn a blind eye to this because every person deserves a chance to live justly,” junior Lindsey Browning said. She is one of over three million people who are actively involved in this important movement.
Peter Benenson, a man of great humility who refused honors as high as knighthood and the Nobel Peace Prize, founded Amnesty International in 1961. His refusal of individual recognition came from the basis that the job was nowhere near done. He entered into a world where human rights were scarcely recognized. However through his devotion he was able to leave this world having seen major developments in universal human rights.
People working with Amnesty implement its mission by acting as the watchdogs for the world. The group watches for violations of human rights, makes such violations known and campaigns to spread the word. Through extensive research, detailed legislative work and reporting, Amnesty defends human rights by demanding attention from policymakers.
The Principia branch of Amnesty will aim to present international concerns to the campus and to gain informed supporters. Amnesty’s strength is in its numbers. If human rights are to be acknowledged, the issue must be widely recognized. Amnesty supporters use their voices by writing petitions or by simply signing them, to stand up to human abuse around the world.
According to junior Alaina Carlson, president of the club, Amnesty is a worthwhile way to help people. “It feels like I’m helping out in some way, even if I’m still busy being a student. It honestly doesn’t take much time, but it’s worth so much to the people we’re reaching out to,” she said. “What could be better than helping someone?”
Many people take their rights for granted; Amnesty helps you to wonder what it would feel like if those basic rights were taken away and then helps you to aid other people in keeping their rights.
Sociology and anthropology professor Billy Miller is one of the best examples of people exercising their rights to help others gain theirs. Miller is an inspiration to all students; especially those who want to help the world become a better place. Because of his example and outreach, a few Principia students have dived into re-implementing an Amnesty group on campus, with Miller’s guidance.
“With the help of the global organization, our club hopes to raise campus awareness and petition alongside thousands of other chapters in order to make a global difference,” sophomore Erica Suess, the club’s vice president, said. “As students, we read about and hear stories of injustices in the news but feel so far away and detached from them. Amnesty International gives us the tools to actually do something and become a part of the global rhetoric in stopping human rights violations.”
Keep an eye out for Amnesty events going on around Prin campus. Helping to promote human rights can be as easy as listening to the campaigns and signing a petition. If you want to be more informed, you can go to the Amnesty International website, like Principia’s Amnesty page on Facebook, or come talk to the members of Principia’s very own Amnesty International branch.