Focusing on student autonomy, activism and their goals for this semester, the retreat represented a venue for open discussion among several student activist groups on campus.
“Our biggest goal is to empower all the members, even non-members,” said Esther Brueggemann, a junior studying history and member of the Student Sierra Coalition. “Anybody who wants to be empowered should be.”
One of those main goals is “freezing tuition,” said Kelli Oliver, a senior commercial photography major and member of the New BLAC.
They will push for trustees to revoke the tuition hike at the March board meeting, Oliver added.
Fighting tuition hikes has been a focus of the student union throughout the year. After three protesters were arrested for disrupting Friday’s trustees meeting, a GoFundMe page was created to help pay court fees and citations. The page will also help three other students that were charged with persistent disorderly conduct at a protest Thursday.
As of press time, the GoFundMe had raised $647 — mostly from anonymous donations.
“We definitely need more,” Oliver said. “I think we probably need close to double the amount of what we have.”
The GoFundMe page is asking for $2,000.
Ryant Taylor, a senior studying English and LGBTQA commissioner for Student Senate, said the retreat served as a way for union members “to keep connected throughout the semester” and to remain “bonded,” despite differing student group agendas.
“We are student leaders,” Taylor said, “and that we are trying to affect change means that we all want the same thing.”
Taylor is also a Post columnist.
Three other important focus points included accessibility of higher education, equal opportunities for minorities and expression of self through art and other media, Brueggemann said.
“The conversation doesn’t end once we leave here,” Rachel Lewis, a sophomore studying communications and member of Feminist Equality Movement, said. “It’s a continuing conversation.”
This story also appears on The Post