Creating a platform for activism

Sanika Nayak

Editor’s note: Sanika Nayak is currently running unopposed to become the next Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Texan. For this column, she was asked to present her platform and vision for the Texan.

My vision for the Texan is to create a space that highlights collective action and organizer voices. For this column, I spoke to a few student advocates and asked them to respond to the following question: What is the work you are doing, and how can the Texan best help further your movement?

You can read their responses below. 

“Following the protests and subsequent commitments made to changing policies surrounding sexual misconduct, … there’s been a persistent need for students to hold UT accountable. There’s a tendency for UT to make promises and then try to fulfill them with the absolute bare minimum. As a student and as an organizer, I’ve seen The Daily Texan accept that bare minimum. … If a student newspaper is going to exist, it has to serve the student body, amplify our movement and radically challenge the oppressive status quo.”

-Cellular and molecular biology junior Kaya Epstein; Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coalition 

“Currently, we are working with UT Administration to see the fulfillment of our Black Community Demands and make sure that UT is a place that is not only welcoming, but a safe place for Black students to grow and flourish. The Texan can support us by utilizing their platform to uplift Black students and other BIPOC authentic perspectives, experiences and stories.”

-Communication and leadership and government senior Brianna McBride (via direct message); Black President’s Leadership Council

“(We) are trying to bring transparent and accessible information directly to students about complex campus issues. … The Texan has a platform to promote other organizations and highlight the work students are doing, but beyond that, the power and influence (the Texan) has on campus … could really benefit the work we’re doing by giving us access to resources.” 

-Government and sociology junior Meera Sam; Uthink 

“We have a petition currently out … of our demands. (The Texan) can help by sharing our social media and Linktree and by getting our name out there. Instead of the typical, “Here’s an organization,” have students who have a story to tell relating to finances share it in the opinion section, and then point to our organization.” 

-International relations and global studies and sociology freshman Jackie Cheng; Students for Financial Relief 

“We want to listen to the voices of people of color and amplify what they have to say. There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Admin hear it, but are they listening and engaging in the conversation? The Daily Texan is so widely known — it’s already an established platform. The publication is known for amplifying voices and getting stories out there, and that’s exactly what I would love for it to do.” 

-Government and Plan II senior Connor O’Neill; Rewrite Not Reclaim 

“I’m involved in survivor advocacy, … helping them navigate the immediate aftermath of assault and also the legal side of things that come later. The biggest thing the Texan could do is … (to) allow survivors to have the autonomy of using their own words to describe what happened to them and how they’re feeling. … (That) makes a lot of difference on this campus. Also, amplifying a more diverse array of survivor voices. … Not all survivors are (cis white women).”

-Government fourth year Sara Jane Ross; Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coalition 

“College students really do care, … it’s just really hard to figure out how to make impact. The work that we want to do for students and beyond is provide accessible ways to make impact. It needs institutional partnership for this to really take off and get access to people who want to do good. If the Texan can reach people, … then you have a shot at creating a community of change.”

-BHP, Plan II and MIS junior Sanika Bhave; Texas Storm 2021 Aid Coalition 

The Texan doesn’t create change by itself, but it has a role to play in the process. To me, that role means working in contingency with student activists on the movements they work so hard on. I plan to use our platform to amplify their voices as best we can, and to move toward necessary change on campus. 

Nayak is a speech, language and hearing sciences junior from Austin, Texas.