In the wake of recent political events, UMBC students have proven themselves as activists. This activism is gaining traction through the social media accounts of various student groups. Among these are organizations like the UMBC chapter of Amnesty International and UMBC Progressives, a Facebook group with over 1000 members.
According to the Office of Student Life, Amnesty’s “purpose is to educate UMBC and the surrounding area about human rights, violations and Amnesty International campaigns to cultivate active citizens and demand change.”
Amnesty was responsible for the Black Lives Matter Week that took place in November and various other events throughout the year. The group can be found on Facebook. However, they are an entity that can be added as a friend rather than simply being a page to be liked. This tactic brings more visibility to the organization as it is reaching out to community members and being more active in making themselves known.
With over 900 Facebook friends, the organization is using this platform as a means of circulating information about various events primarily within the UMBC community.
This is in contrast to the UMBC Progressives Facebook page, which although not an official student organization, is still a sizable group.
As a public group on Facebook that one can join, the page is almost set up in a thread-like fashion where members are free to and oftentimes do, engage in conversation in addition to sharing local events. Most recently, some of the members went to the protests at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in response to the temporary ban placed on U.S. entry.
The group page provides a different feeling from that of Amnesty’s in a multitude of ways. With it being a public group, the interface is already different from Amnesty’s page and invites more of a conversation about certain topics. Amnesty seems to be more about awareness of issues and various ways to help.
Although two different methods of activism, members of both groups advocated for the petition to make UMBC a sanctuary campus that circulated in November of last year. Where Amnesty is focused on events that happen either on campus or by UMBC community members, UMBC Progressives broadens the scope to events happening anywhere from Baltimore to DC.
Amnesty is also reaching out on other platforms as they have an Instagram page in addition to their Facebook profile.
As the current political climate is undergoing stark change, both of these groups are great resources for those who are looking to get started in activism. With the presence of social media being such a powerful tool, Amnesty and UMBC Progressives have mastered the art of reaching the masses effectively.