Human rights advocates inform at University fair

Jake Hong

Nine student organizations came together to share information about the countries and causes they support at a human rights fair Wednesday.

Zoya Waliany, Plan II senior and one of the fair organizers, said the goal of the fair was to promote greater visibility of human rights on campus. The Human Rights Student Advisory Council sponsored the event, which about 100 people attended.

She said the campus has multiple human rights advocacy groups, but many of them have very small memberships.

“A lot of times, these clubs are less prominent than your fraternities and sororities and bigger clubs such as Student Government,” Waliany said.

The White Rose Society, a group sponsored by Texas Hillel, focused on human rights abuses in areas such as Myanmar and Darfur.

“We’re always interested in helping people that are afflicted by genocide,” said Rebecca Goldstein, English junior and a chair of the group. “It’s really great work to do.”

To raise money for aid to Darfur, a branch of the White Rose Society, Challah for Hunger, sells challah at $5 per loaf at the West Mall every week. The group typically raises about $250 per week, and sends more than 80 percent of the proceeds to the civil war-torn country.

Oxfam-UT, a group of about 20 students that supports labor unions, campaigned for the labor improvement at the UT apparel factories located in Latin American and Asian countries, said Alejandro Barrientos, government junior and Oxfam outreach chair.

The organization also called for the decommission of the Fayetteville Coal Power Plant, which was responsible for the loss of revenue for local pecan farmers.

“There might not be awareness among students, but if you explain our campaign to a student, they generally agree that it is a good thing,” Barrientos said.

The organization conducted letter drops, petitions and meetings with the administration in the effort to advance human rights, said Katy Aus, history junior and membership chair for Oxfam-UT.

“It’s a combination of trying to get the administration to work with us and listening to our requests and also just informing the student population and trying to get them more involved and mobilized in this cause,” Aus said.

GlobeMed, a student group fighting for global health equity, participated at the fair. The organization has raised $3,000 of its $7,750 goal for latrine restoration and construction in Guarjila, El Salvador.