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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students take a ‘STAND’ against genocide

Published: September 23, 2010
Section: Features

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

When searching for a club to join on campus, it is hard to find one with both a humanitarian agenda and an enjoyable experience. However, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND), a student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network, offers students the opportunity to make a difference while still having fun.

The mission of STAND is simple–prevent genocide and provide humanitarian aid. At Brandeis where Jewish students are brought up knowing the phrase “Never Again” in reference to the Holocaust, joining STAND provides students with the opportunity to take action against modern genocide. According to STAND Executive-board member Adam Cohen ’12, STAND is out to make a “global difference at a community level.”

During weekly meetings at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, members look at crises around the world and brainstorm how to address them. Among the methods used are fundraising, awareness education and community involvement. Last year, STAND hosted speaker Mohamed Yahya to talk about his experiences in Darfur. Yahya was a refugee who had escaped from Darfur and started the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy.

“He is the most inspirational man I’ve ever met. He talked about how everyone has the power to make a difference and change the world” STAND E-board member Maddie Barr ’12 said.

Yahya cast an overwhelming presence last year as he spoke of his experience in Darfur and described Damanga. But he was also thankful to be at Brandeis and speak to students willing to help the cause.

“He kept on thanking us a lot for being in STAND and trying to get the word out,” said E-board member, Becca Elwin ’12.

As for upcoming events hosted by STAND, the club will host a barbeque on the Great Lawn on Oct. 17, during Parents’ Weekend. The main goal is to raise money for Darfur Stoves, which provide solar power stoves to people in refugee camps.

During the barbeque, the club will also sell beaded jewelry from the organization Beads for Life, an organization situated in Oregon that raises money for Ugandan women. Beads for Life provides an opportunity for Ugandan women to support themselves and their villages by making beads out of recycled paper.

STAND E-board member Hannah Kirsch ’12 said that the beauty of this organization is that “even the likelihood of Ugandan women being able to sell their goods in America is small. It’s made out of recycled material and it’s just a beautiful system.”

STAND is trying to bring awareness back to campus about efforts going on in Uganda and Sudan.

“Sudan isn’t a hot topic anymore. There’s a lot of talk about ‘Darfur fatigue,’ the idea that no one is talking about it anymore since it began long ago and there are more trendy issues to talk about,” said Kirsch. Therefore, through a possible benefit concert, help with Damanga and continued efforts with Beads for Life sales, STAND hopes to combat “Darfur fatigue” and other cases of genocide around the world.

“I joined STAND because I wanted to be involved with something that happened to do with activism. Aware of the “Darfur fatigue,” I wanted to make sure I was keeping the cause alive,” said Cohen.

Not only is STAND a way to keep the cause alive, it is also a way to meet new people who have the same desire to help. According to Barr, “It’s honestly fun to work on an issue you care about when the people are enjoyable. As a club, we approach a serious topic, but we’re able to have fun with the people we’re working with.”