The University of Colorado has a long tradition of activism. Many of us participate in global movements, volunteer on alternative breaks, and help our community during disasters like the Colorado flood of 2013. But being an activist isn't just something we do once in a while — it's something we can do every day. The quality of our classroom environments directly impacts thousands of individuals and influences our future success. There are many steps we can take to create classrooms that support diverse experiences and goals:
Form study groups and include people outside of your circle. Reach out to someone sitting alone. Use Google Calendar to coordinate study times and help each other with the material. Creating connections and breaking isolation is a powerful way to support your community. It also makes the class a lot more fun, and you can keep each other motivated.
Send feedback to your professors and TAs. Be kind and clear. Maybe a lecture went great, maybe everyone is struggling. It's important that they hear from you so that they can adjust their design. They're learning, too. Many of us are afraid to do this, but professors really appreciate it and will respect you for taking initiative.
Ask questions. Chances are, more than a handful of people are thinking the same thing. Speak out. If you see or hear something disrespectful, don't let it pass unnoticed. Learn what it means to be an ally.
Collective action creates results. Find out if your department has a committee of students that work directly with faculty on student success. If not, make one, You can work with an existing club, revive an inactive committee, or build from the ground up. Recruit students from a wide variety of backgrounds and goals. Use Google Groups and Google Docs for communication. Reach out to faculty and department chairs and express your desire for collaboration. Collect student feedback and form teams to address your goals.
If you want to serve your community, but you're not sure how, get help. State your interest and ask around. Maybe there are existing projects for you to join or people with insight into how you can plug in. If you need help forming a committee in your department, email me at Layne.Hubbard@Colorado.edu.
Layne Jackson Hubbard is CUSG's director of academic affairs.