More than 70 Student Groups Form Coalition Committed to Social Change

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Students from more than 70 student groups have joined together to form a super-organization, the Colgate Student Coalition, to raise bail funds for individuals arrested as part of protests that have swept the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Formed days after major protests erupted in the United States, the coalition came together with a goal to raise at least $72,000 in 13 days for four nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting with bail for protesters who have been arrested and imprisoned.

Halfway through the fundraiser, which began on June 5, member Adrienne Vaughn ’22, a molecular biology major who is also a member of the Colgate Women’s Soccer team, said the coalition has already raised more than $37,000. The group has also established a website and is busy promoting its efforts on social media.

“For me personally, I wanted to get involved because I felt really hopeless,” said Vaughn. “My parents didn’t want me going to protests and being on the front line because of the danger due to COVID and potential violence, but this was a way to get involved without being there.”

Vaughn said that as of June 11, the group had 712 individual donations, and four of those were for $1,000. 

“We couldn’t have done this without the support of everyone in the group,” said Vaughn. “We are just putting the work in to reach out to as many people as possible. It’s extremely motivational to see that everyone wants to make change.”

Haley Taylor ’21, an educational studies major and co-chair of the student organization Sisters of the Roundtable, said the collaboration of student groups from across campus has helped harness each of their alumni networks, as the individual organizations have reached out to past members for support.

Organizing more than 100 student volunteers in the coalition has been accomplished through a huge GroupMe chat, Taylor said, and the fledgling organization is now developing a more concrete structure to facilitate future plans for supporting causes related to social justice at Colgate.

“There’s an outreach committee that was charged with reaching out to other organizations, and there’s a social media team that handles our Twitter and Instagram accounts,” Taylor said.

The coalition has also developed a 13-day education initiative on their website as a way for individuals who are unable to donate to learn and engage in the national conversation around race and justice.

“The idea was mostly that we want people to donate and spread the word, but we also want people to ask, ‘How else can I engage? And, how else can I learn?’ A big part of that is educating yourself, knowing what antiracist theory looks like, and making sure you’re informed,” Taylor said.

Computer science major Bilal Boussayoud ’21, co-president of Brothers of Colgate University, said he has seen the coalition grow from just seven students to more than 100 in a few short weeks.

Boussayoud said the coalition is now completely focused on the current fundraiser, but the group will come together after its conclusion on June 18 to think about the issues they will tackle together in the future.

“We want to make the world a better place in more ways than one. We need to establish bylaws, and form a constitution, and figure out how we operate on campus. We’re not a traditional group; we’re more of a supergroup,” said Boussayoud.