Students Seek Activism Beyond Protesting

Feb 13, 2017 | Beyond the Bubble, News

Frustration at the Trump administration brought students together for a fundraising bake sale to support Planned Parenthood on the 9th and 10th of February. The fundraiser was organized by Student Activists For America (SAFA) and rallied wide student support, collecting twice as much money as expected.

SAFA is a student coalition recently organized by eight Nueva sophomore and junior students to provide a positive outlet for discontent. Frustrated at their inability to vote last November, the group of friends first turned to protesting and attended the Inauguration Day march in San Francisco. However, they felt this wasn’t fulfilling or impactful enough.

“Protests are good but provide a false catharsis,” explained SAFA founding member Nina G. “Showing support is good, but what does taking an Uber to a government-permitted march, where police protect you, actually accomplish?” Nina also expressed disappointment towards the idea of protesting as something “cool” to post about on social media.

SAFA seeks to involve students in positive change and combat what Nina described as everyone being “too moderate and okay” with the results of the election. They decided that they would choose a different cause to support each month.

The group found many Nueva students eager to help them. When sales exploded on the first day, SAFA almost ran out of baked goods, and a large number of students appeared the next day with their own food to contribute to the sale.

“It’s cool that, in this community, people see the value of charity,” Nina said. “On Thursday, Patrick ran around and said he would only play battleship and chess with people who bought from us, so we saw a lot of sheepish freshmen coming up to us,” she recalled with a laugh.

“There are all these problems we might not have the power to solve right now, but we can think of ways to solve them,” Nina said.

Activism is often critiqued for its short-lasting solutions. To affect more permanent change is something I really want to do with my life.

SAFA chose to support Planned Parenthood in light of recent efforts in the political arena to defund it. “It’s very important that we all have basic reproductive freedom, and Planned Parenthood provides that,” Nina explained, “Planned Parenthood is incredibly important for female autonomy, especially for high school students.”

The bake sale had raised over $1000 by Friday afternoon, after only 5 of the 6 sales they organized. “We expected to make about 500, at most 800 dollars,” Nina recalled. “By the end of the first day we’d already made 660.”

SAFA hopes to grow into an interscholastic organization, providing students all around the Bay Area with ways to ways to support causes they believe in. They plan to move beyond fundraising and into volunteering, and maybe even further.

“There’s a freshman girl in the Design Engineering for Social Good class that wants to make tear-gas resistant jackets to

make protesting easier,” Nina explained, “I want to work with design and innovation for one of the causes to make a more lasting impact. Activism is often critiqued for its short-lasting solutions. To affect more permanent change is something I really want to do with my life.”

Nina also said that she wants “perfect change,” and that she considered liberalism to be weakened by its willingness to include “not-so-great ideologies” in order to swell its ranks and coffers. “That leads to imperfect half-way solutions that cripple further change because people think the issues are solved. I don’t want to make concessions, because that’s the only way lasting, good change is going to happen.”

Next month SAFA plans to support Black Lives Matter. “We’re working on ways to make SAFA more inclusive, letting more people join and help,” Nina said, “We meet every two weeks on Fridays. Email me if you want to join!” she said with a laugh.

You can contact Nina at ningrig@nuevaschool.org.