Interested in building a student peace chapter? In the past year, Massachusetts Peace Action has developed seven student chapters at colleges, universities, and high schools. We are passionate about our work and excited to share our knowledge and hopefully receive feedback on best practices!
When building a student chapter, our top priority is attracting and retaining a dedicated Student Organizer for each campus group. Each Student Organizer (SO) is in charge of developing and maintaining his or her chapter, which means a chapter’s success depends on the success of the organizer. In order to find the right candidates, we focus on a few basic recruitment strategies and then prioritize candidates based on target criteria.
- Massachusetts Peace Action Events: MAPA hosts multiple events throughout the year, many of which appeal to students. By ensuring that these events are advertised to our target audience, we can expect to meet and mingle with students who are already interested in our campaigns and have received an introduction to our organization
- Direct professor outreach: Teachers, instructors, and professors – as well as other community leaders – are the direct links to our students. Their daily student interactions make them crucial allies because they have the knowledge and ability to recommend likely candidates
- Maintaining an active social media presence: Our social networks are where students go to become familiar with our persona. Social allows them to engage with the culture that supports the issues we promote.
- Internship postings: Simply and effective, a strategically written internship posting on the top sites and school career portals will bring results
Now, on to our Target Criteria when interviewing and selecting Student Organizers:
- Passion for the peace movement: Campus organizing takes work and requires independent initiative. Students who are already invested in the peace movement are far more likely to take the extra steps needed. To do this work well, they need to believe in it.
- Leadership abilities: Organizing a chapter means stepping out of your comfort zone; it means standing up in front of classes and pitching your ideas; it means asking uncomfortable questions, talking to people you have not met, and not getting frustrated when your efforts don’t always get results. In other words, organizing a chapter requires a true leader.
- Campus Involvement: Whether a high school or a college, educational institutions are usually buried in red tape. For every written rule there are two to three unwritten stipulations, never mind the ever-changing social expectations. Students who are already familiar with the ins and outs of campus bureaucracy are one step ahead of the game.
These tried and true methods have allowed us to identify and work with incredible student leaders. Their work inspires our continued efforts and makes us excited to build future chapters. Our methods are constantly evolving but we hope our baseline offers food for thought for other organizations. Let’s collaborate soon!