Aaaaand here are the candidates for next year’s Amnesty International committee! Remember to come to the meeting on Wednesday 20 March to vote, and our Give a Damn Dinner on Thursday 21 March for the results!
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”- Peter Benenson
When the founder of Amnesty International recounted this old Chinese proverb, I doubt he ever envisioned that the organisation would have as many members, or as much influence, as it does today. Yet here we are in the corner of the world that is Exeter, continuing the fight for the basic human rights that we, like Peter, believe every person should have. All our achievements this year under our inspiring committee makes me proud. The unmistakable dedication, enthusiasm, creativity and above all, sincere belief in change in everything we do is what I believe makes Exeter University Amnesty International Society special. It would be such a privilege to represent you all as President of such a worthy society. I feel I would be a good candidate for this role due to my passion and dedication to Amnesty International. The ‘Action for Change’ weekend I recently returned from gave me many new, exciting ideas for how we can take the society even further next year. My commitment has extended to organising an ‘Amnestea’ fundraising afternoon last term, as well as my current challenging endeavour to live beneath the poverty line for two weeks! I chose to study History and Philosophy due to my keen interest in past human rights issues. In my position as Equality and Diversity Officer for the Guild this year I have tried to raise awareness of the ultimate sameness of the human race, as with this understanding inhumanity would not occur. This and my leadership of the history committee both taught me skills which are invaluable for a Presidency role. I have also been involved in Oxfam society this year, and have admired the way the campaigns societies have collaborated. As President, my three key objectives for our society would be its Impact, Awareness and Unity.
Making a genuine impact is the whole purpose of our work for Amnesty. I would further this by:
- Continuing our four-week campaigns cycle: this structure and the chance for everyone to have their say through the online vote has been a really effective campaigning method
- Creating a lasting legacy of our campaigns by making video records then displaying these on a stall in the forum for a couple of weeks after each campaign to generate more signatures and awareness
- Lobbying our MP Ben Bradshaw, as it is through him that we can directly impact our government
- Continuing our great success in the Student Raise-Off; cake-sales are a must, as well as music events and our annual ‘Give a Damn Dance’, as this money is integral to the success of Amnesty International
Raising awareness of human rights issues is imperative to their prevention. We could achieve this through:
- Discussing the issues ourselves! As well as in general meetings, I think it would be amazing to start having pub socials every other week, where we get together on a casual basis and discuss various human rights issues. This would not only help keep us informed, but be lots of fun too! J
- Finding speakers to come and inform us about issues they have direct involvement in
- Targeting a wider audience with the Human Rights Update and it’s online counterpart, and utilising social media such as twitter to inform people of what we are doing
Together we are stronger. Ways we might develop more unity are:
- Within the society: Lots of different types of socials to attract all audiences. A weekend away together. Encouraging members to take initiative and lead projects they are passionate about.
- With potential members: Huge presence in Fresher’s week. Wear Amnesty stash when campaigning.
- With outside groups: Collaborate with the local Amnesty group for outside speakers and a broader Exeter presence. Continue working with other campaigns societies through the Exechange group. Work with the Guild to ensure campaigns are carried out successfully and smoothly on campus.
It may be better to light a candle than curse the darkness, but it is better still to light many candles. I hope to do just that as your President.
Love, Charlie x
Who am I?
My name is Jenny and I am a second year Law student, going into my third and final year in September. My aim is to become a Human Rights lawyer; a passion that has been amplified since becoming involved with Amnesty International.
My commitment to Amnesty
Hopefully most of you will already know me as I am the current Secretary on the Amnesty International Committee. I am a committed member of the society, having been regularly to meetings, campaigns, fundraisers and socials since my first year, as well as the recent South West conference. I have also completed the Exeter half marathon last month, raising £435 for Amnesty; a very difficult, but equally rewarding and worthwhile challenge.
Why I want to be President
There are many reasons that I would love to be President of Exeter’s Amnesty International Society, most prominently my passion for human rights and the enjoyment I have had from being a member of the society. I am so proud to have been part of the incredible success stories that Amnesty is responsible for around the world and would love to become a more significant part of such work.
I also think that it would be great to have continuity between the current committee and the new one. As the only present committee member who is not a final year, I believe my experience of how the committee works and the society runs would be very valuable in ensuring the success from this year continues. Furthermore, I feel ready to increase my responsibility and take on a bigger challenge in my final year. I am thoroughly aware of what the role of President involves and am confident that I have both the time and enthusiasm to fulfil this to a high level.
What I would bring to the role
My biggest aim as President would be to emulate the amazing work that JP has done this year. I feel that the 4 week campaign scheme (learning about an issue, thinking of ideas, preparing a campaign and implementing) has been a very successful way to cover a broad range of issues and has given plenty of opportunity to be creative and make ourselves known on campus. Therefore I would be keen to continue this process next year, with a week in between each campaign for some down time to discuss what we would like to focus on next and to have a more relaxed, social meeting. I would also be eager to continue links with other University societies; particularly campaigning and charity ones, as well as the local Exeter Amnesty group, to further increase our campus presence and work together to have an even greater impact in combating human rights issues. Liaising with Amnesty International UK is an important aspect of Presidency and is a role I would relish.
I am a very organised, committed person who works well in a team and is a confident public speaker, regularly giving presentations in my job as a Student Ambassador. I feel that these characteristics would equip me well to lead both committee and society meetings and ensure the smooth running of Amnesty.
Being on the Amnesty International Committee has been one of the highlights of my University experience and I really don’t want that privilege to end! So please vote for me to be President next year and I promise to ensure that this amazing society continues to go from strength to strength.
I am currently studying law with the hope of becoming an international human rights lawyer. The work I would be doing for your society is not only of great interest to me but is the driving force behind my studies and future.
A highlight of me this year has been going to Amnesty’s ‘Action for change.’ The weekend was such a confirmation of how effective our campaign work can be! From freeing prisoners of conscience to showing solidarity with the women of WOZA. The weekend allowed me to meet other amnesty members from across the UK which has truly inspired my vision for next year.
James has done a brilliant job keeping us informed on current campaigns; he has provided us with ample choices all of which have been clearly and often emotively pitched to us. I would wish to continue the four week campaign plan which has worked efficiently, allowing us to engage with multiple campaigns a term.
The main focus for me will be making sure we all work as a team:
- I will keep you all updated on current issues.
- I will ensure there are campaign mentors who people can pair up with for the campaigning whilst finding their feet/ voice!
- In the meeting prior to the campaign mentors will spend one-on-one time working with all of you to improve your campaigning skills.
I also plan to have an amnesty weekend away (something I will arrange with the social secretary.)
As amnesty activists we are active! We hear, however, very little feedback on what we have done, what others are doing and the difference we make. Next year I will make sure that there are follow up sessions to our campaigns where we can see:
a) What other universities are doing- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r46Lp5QcnEI&feature=youtube_gdata_player
b) How are campaigns are received- http://www.standard.co.uk/panewsfeeds/protest-calls-for-arms-trade-treaty-8517947.html
c) The changes being made.- http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=10097
It would also be great to hear of your own experiences and interests and then incorporate them into the work of the society. In order to achieve this I’d work with the social secretary to organise laid back socials wherein people can share their passions and inspiration.
My vision is for an amnesty team that is passionate, updated and united.
This year I hope you have found me approachable and confident! I feel these attributes will be vital in working with other societies, the committee and you.
I’ve loved being actively involved in campaigning this year and would be honoured to be your campaign manager next year.
Hi! Cheers for watching the video! I’m Rob, and for those of you who haven’t met me, I’m in my second year at Exeter, studying Arabic and Persian and am currently on my year abroad in Cairo. I had a great time with the Amnesty group last year and I really want to give something back to you all, because you made me feel so at home, so I’m running for Campaigns Officer.
The issues we are passionate about in Amnesty, like women’s rights, religious freedom, political prisoners and torture are really close to home here in the Middle East. Every day I see political action here that really shows me how important and effective national campaigns can be. I want to bring a bit of the spirit of the Arab Spring to Exeter to fight for human rights all around the world, having a lot of fun along the way.
James has done a great job over the last two years, so I want to continue with what he has done, and I also want to build on it to make Amnesty even better. So, having made an idiot of myself, I’d like to give a couple of proposals as to what I would do if you’d do me the honour of electing me as the next Campaigns Officer for the best society on campus.
Firstly, I think it is really important to get our passion out onto to the national stage, and MPs are a natural way to orchestrate that. At Action for Change last year, I got to see how powerful lobbying could be. So I propose creating a list of peoples’ local MPs back home and having a termly topic which we try to meet our MPs (and Ben Bradshaw!) about, to really influence national politics. Often MPs are so busy that they don’t even know about some of the issues we are passionate about, but even 10 MPs at Westminster voicing our concerns would be a powerful force for good.
Secondly, sometimes when we talk about Amnesty, or go out on campaigns, people ask us whether what we do really helps. And it does! But to prove it, I propose we create a display, which we can use during public demonstrations, but also in meetings too, of a few of the people who we’ve been recently campaigning for in Amnesty, who’ve had their lives changed for the better as a result.
My friends say I’m a pretty sensible person (I guess you can make your own judgements on that!). I’m organised and self-starting. As the captain, I managed to organise getting the Exeter University Challenge team (based in Falmouth as well as in Exeter) up and down to Manchester with the only thing hurt being some pride. I’ve been involved in Amnesty for several years now at a couple of universities and so I’ve seen a bit of how it works and I’ve volunteered for various other charities over the years, including the British Heart Foundation and Oxfam. But most of all, I’d like to be Campaigns Officer as I’m really keen to get everyone involved!
I’m really looking forward to catching up with some of you again, and meeting the others for the first time.
I’d be honoured to be elected.
Human Rights Update Editors
Natasha and Sophie
Sophie Lewis – BA in English and Politics. I have always been a passionate political activist and human rights supporter who seeks to challenge the many problems that exist both nationally and internationally in modern day society. In addition to this, my interest in English and Politics and my dedication to both disciplines provide me with a strong platform to succeed in the role of Human Rights Update Co-Editor for Exeter University’s Amnesty Society.
Natasha Yorke-Edgell – BA in Philosophy and Politics. I was led to these subjects by my genuine passion for discussing fundamental issues that affect real people around the world – ones that I would like to try and change for the better. I hope that my knowledge in these areas will really help to enrich the diversity of perspectives in the content of the blog/publication which I will be Co-Editing.
The benefits of working as a team:
- Studying across three relevant disciplines broadens our spectrum of knowledge, enabling a wider discussion of the human rights challenges we will cover.
- We believe that it’s a very positive attribute that we both have varying opinions when it comes to politics and current affairs. The different perspectives will enrich the publication/blog by creating a more balanced, thought-provoking field of debate.
- Our joint honours degrees provide us with a broader network of potential writers and contributors.
- Our productivity level will be enhanced by the dual role, as we will be able to effectively delegate responsibilities between us.
We would like to rejuvenate and expand both the publication and online activity of the blog in order to create a recognised and dynamic academic resource.
How we will achieve this:
- We will use the blog to update our followers on the aims and achievements of Exeter’s Amnesty Society each term and publish articles relevant to these aims/campaigns.
- We also hope to go beyond this however, by posting a variety of additional forms of media such as news stories, links to websites, poems, quotes, photography, video links etc. We hope to increase the online activity in order to raise the profile of the blog and increase its readership.
- Moreover, we hope to modify the structure of the blog by compartmentalising it into updates on our society’s campaigns/activity, and the global campaigns that Amnesty International is leading. So, alongside our local updates, we will have themed fortnights which zoom in on the other global efforts of Amnesty, for example women’s rights, the death penalty, prisoners voting rights, the arms trade treaty etc.
- We would like to make the publication a more aesthetically and academically professional resource. This would require additional funding for the increase in printing costs. By working alongside the fundraising officers, some of the ideas to remedy this could be:
- Seeking sponsorship from local publishers
- Cake Sales/Dinner Parties/Black Tie Charity Events
- Incorporate printing costs into guild funding application
- We hope to increase the publication of the magazine so that the update is as current as possible within the time limits of our degree. We wish to publish it once every two months/half term.
- In order to build a reliable and diverse network of writers, we will:
- Combine our contacts gathered from our degree courses
- Organise announcements to persuade other societies who may have an interest in either writing, publishing or human rights to contribute towards the magazine
- Disseminate regular emails and posters encouraging talented writers to also get involved
The all-encompassing nature of Amnesty will guarantee the involvement of artists, human rights activists and writers who wish to publish their work in an academic publication for a renowned charity. We hope that these improvements will enable the publication to act as a vehicle which interlinks all aspects of our society (from publicity to campaigning and awareness) whilst also developing a stronger membership and readership base.
A big thank you from Natasha and Sophie for your consideration!
My name’s Becca Stewart and I’m running for Treasurer. I’m a second year student at Exeter studying International Relations and Middle East Studies and have been a member of Amnesty since the beginning of 1st year. I’ve found it a really great and pro-active society and am really keen to get more involved and get to know people more. I’ve also been Treasurer of the Jewish Society for the past two years and have really enjoyed it so thought I would apply for the same role here. So though I’m not taking Maths here at Exeter, this gives me experience with the budgets and so forth. I was also on the Summer Ball committee for Exeter Halls last year which has given me the experience of being on a committee and organising an event; I found it a great experience and a good way to meet people too. Amnesty seems to be really successful with its fundraising and getting campaigns out there. I’m a friendly, easy-going person and it’d be great to get more involved!
I am running for a committee role in Amnesty International because I am a committed individual (see what I did there?!) who has a passion for the great works we as a society and Amnesty International as a global movement do. I am running for the role of secretary because whilst handwriting is not my strong point, I am able to organise and manage my time and other people efficiently. I am also able to dedicate the required time necessary to make sure the role is efficiently carried out. Though I can’t promise to bring anything particularly revolutionary to the role- there’s only so many ways of filling out a risk assessment form-I can promise to do it well. I have particularly admired the enthusiasm and motivation this year’s committee have brought to the society and this is something I aspire to also bring as well to hopefully inspire others. I enjoy working in team and supporting others and I would also enjoy helping other members of the committee in their roles if necessary. But mainly, I would just love to be on a leadership team of individuals who all share the same passion for human equality and rights that I do, in order to make the society a great one that everyone wants to be part of, and to make things happen in the world!
Caitlin and Natalie
Hi everyone, we’re Caitlin and Natalie and we’re running to be your fundraising officers for next year!
Fundraising is essential for achieving Amnesty’s goals. At the recent Action for Change event in London we learnt that only 4% of Amnesty’s funds come from corporations and other external organisations. Over half of all the money Amnesty receives comes from individuals and student bodies which just proves that all of our contributions make a real difference towards making international human rights a reality. This is why we believe that our efforts are so important and why we hope to represent you all in this role.
Currently, Exeter University has won the Amnesty Student Raiseoff for the past two years! This is a fantastic legacy that would be great to build on. Over the past couple of years Jess and Amie have organised a range of successful events from bake sales to the Give a Damn Dance and everything in between. Our aim is to keep the old favourites whilst also introducing some new ideas into the mix:
Pub quizzes on a monthly/termly basis in pubs around Exeter
Jailbreak- 24 hours to travel as far from Exeter as possible
Sponsored film screenings (human rights based or just for fun!)
Live music nights to build on Jamnesty’s success
Termly Amnesteas- a chance to bake, raise money and get to know your fellow Amnesty members
We also plan to maintain Facebook groups specific to Amnesty fundraising, so that anyone who wishes to help organise or suggest an event has a forum to voice their opinion. If you have plans for a sponsored event or know other societies who would be enthusiastic about a collaboration then don’t hesitate to chat to either of us- we’re interested in hearing from you!
Cordelia and Liz
Hi everyone, we are two third year students currently on our year abroads and would love to be considered for the position of publicity officer with Exeter Amnesty International Society. Having both been on committee last year, we have some experience of how it works and would really like another opportunity to be involved with helping to run the society and to work with such a great bunch of people again. Spreading the word about all the inspiring campaigns and fundraising events the society runs is a really important job, and if elected we promise to make many jazzy posters and bombard people with information using social media sites to continue raising awareness about Human Rights!
I joined Amnesty International society when I started at Exeter nearly three years ago and from the very first meeting was hooked on the friendliness of the people, the easy going and fun atmosphere of the meetings, and most importantly the feeling that I was involved with something that really made a difference to people’s lives. From the immediacy of a simple action of writing a letter to the (sometimes quite complex!) wide-ranging campaigns, being involved with Amnesty International society gave me so much to think about and act on and I have continued my involvement here in Italy with the local student group gaining more ideas about how the charity works on a European scale. One of the most important things about Amnesty’s work, which is something we are focussing on here in Italy and something we did a couple of years ago in Exeter, is involving school kids and informing people about Human Rights from an early age, with the aim that Human Rights will become more widely spoken and cared about. If elected I would work hard not only to publicise to uni students and adult members of the public, but also to schools with a view to involving younger members in campaigns and events.
I would love to be on committee again in the role of publicity officer to continue spreading the word about the importance of Human Rights and Amnesty’s work so please vote for us!
I joined Amnesty International in 2003, over the last ten years I have observed the inspiring perseverance and determination of AI members and the energy they put into every campaign, until they reach an outcome that best protects human rights regardless of how long it takes or the hurdles they face. This is what makes me passionate about Amnesty.
I of course couldn’t stay away on my year abroad, so have joined the local group for Sydney, here we’ve been focussing on campaigns specific to the region, one of which is the protection of human rights for asylum seekers. Here asylum seekers are detained in detention centres for indefinite periods of time until their status is decided (the process can take up to five years during which time they are not allowed out of the centre despite not having committed any crime). Many do not speak English making it a confusing and lonely experience when they find themselves treated essentially like criminals when they have come seeking protection. In response Amnesty has launched a simple but effective campaign to provide dictionaries which we deliver, often with messages of support in. I can’t think of another time I have in person witnessed such a seemingly blatant abuse of human rights; however, I have also witnessed the importance of even the simplest gestures of support. It has been an experience which has truly strengthened my commitment to the work AI does.
I would love the opportunity to be a part of the committee again as a publicity officer and continue the good work of Hannah and Rachel, where even though I’m 10,000 miles away I still know what events are on!
Thank you for listening and please vote for us!
The work of Amnesty is very important to me: I’m currently studying International Law & have been involved with Amnesty for three years. I volunteer for the RNLI & Refugee Support Devon & like to see human rights in action! I’ve got quite a few good ideas to bring along to the committee.
As social sec, I’d organise you all a variety of events including après-Amnesty RAM sessions, Amnesty-related socials (such as a letter writing campaign all-nighter with chocolate, music and onsies), & nights + days out, including hopefully a weekend away & a beach party & keep you all in the loop on facebook & emails.
Hoping to make the most of UNDHR Article 27 (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.
Letter Writing Officer
I have really enjoyed my involvement with the society this year and so would like to get more involved next year, which is why I am running for a position. I first became involved with Amnesty International through, and because of, letter writing. While I love the other aspects to Amnesty, like the campaigns and fundraising, too, letter writing will always remain a personal favourite simply because it is was how I discovered Amnesty and because it is such an easy yet rewarding way to make a difference. I would therefore love to get more people involved in this part of Amnesty’s work. I am organised, so can meet deadlines, and an English student, which should hopefully help with the writing. Finally, the role description warns of being able to walk proudly through the forum with several packs of biscuits, and put up with odd looks in the post office, which I have no worries about!
I would like to be Letter Writing Sec because I haven’t been able to get involved in amnesty a huge amount this year due to timetable conflicts but next year I really want to be a larger part of it. I have been a member of amnesty international for three years, despite being a first year, as I was part of the amnesty group at my sixth form school. I’d really like to expand on my knowledge of the amnesty’s causes and learning about discursive world issues and being able to discuss them openly as a group is one of my favourite parts of being part of amnesty. I’ve had quite a bit of experience in writing letters as part of my school group but also as editor of a few magazines, and I’ve also written an article for the amnesty blog before, so I know my way around Microsoft word to say the least. I’ve also been signed up to Amnesty online and a group called 38 Degrees which keep me informed of current events that are very relevant to Amnesty’s cause.
I am a huge fan of chocolate biscuits so hopefully I will have the expertise to provide you all with food that will satisfy every meeting. And I have done quite a few embarrassing things in my time so funny looks at the post office won’t be anything new to me.
Amnesty has always been a friendly body of people committed to defending humans against rights violations and I think it is a cause fully worth all of our time. This is why I would really enjoy the opportunity to be a part of the committee to try and promote increased awareness of human rights violations that we can all stop together.