Kicking off the second program of LUVIM Activist Days, Randy Shaw implored the West Chester University community to become proactive leaders for their causes. He defined activism as “being active to do good in the world.”On Nov. 8 in Philips Autograph Library, Shaw replied to the question of whether or not people can make a difference, saying, “We can, we have, and we will” admonishing all present to “jump into the fray and make it happen.”
He noted that the major problem facing society is a lack of involvement. Shaw, a San Francisco lawyer and activist, described the post-baby boomer generation as “anti-leadership.”
After visiting many universities across the nation, he said he noticed a consensus-oriented ideology working against the concept of leadership among students.
Shaw explained that the ideology supports a notion that activists should not impose their ideas on others by actively seeking to enlist supporters.
Rather, activists should allow others? concern for the cause to emerge without provocation and expect that, as strong convictions develop, people will organize their own actions.
Shaw said that this mentality inhibits the legacy of activism on college campuses by failing to recruit and mentornewer members to the ranks
of activist organizations. He noted that this practice would cause each new group to have to start all over again and make them more likely to repeat past mistakes.
When a first-year WCU student asked for suggestions on better recruitment strategies, Shaw responded that group leaders should get new members involved immediately, utilize a charismatic spokesperson, and constantly recruit.
In light of people?s tendency to respond to injustice rather than plan ahead to prevent injustice, Shaw said activists should become more proactive and purposeful in furthering their agenda, explaining that too often activists only react to an issue instead of working to solve the issue. Shaw cautioned that allowing opposing political forces to define the problem would permit them to set activists? agenda by creating the parameters of the subject.
Shaw also recommended that people look beyond the scope of local issues in order to affect change where the root of the problem often lies the national level.
Although he reminded the audience that many noteworthy, meaningful accomplishments can occur on the state and local level, he mentioned that activists must fight for federal change as well.
When Carolyn Soricio, a professor in the English department, asked Shaw how young Kerry supporters who actively participated in politics during the campaign could effectively influence change given a Republican presidency, Shaw replied: “There are things you can do on a state level that can really affect people?s lives.”
In an earlier interview, Shaw said that grassroots workers must set an agenda and work to put amendments on ballots that affect the national, not just the local level – where people are “fighting over scraps.”
Shaw mentioned that young college students make the best activists because, in comparison to older adults, younger students tend to have more free time, more flexible hours, and less family responsibility.
Noting that now is a great time for activism, Shaw said, “often it just takes a few people to say ?let?s make a difference.?