Monday, January 14, 2008

59 Students & Faculty Gather at Loyola U.:National Campus Strategy to Pass HR 4048 Developed

Today, 59 students, staff, and faculty from 10 college campuses met at Loyola University in New Orleans and took a major step forward in planning a national campus campaign strategy to pass the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project (HR 4048).

Eighteen students from San Jose State University facilitated the event, which included an ice breaker facilitated by Justine Ouano, a discussion of the history of the GCCWP led by Marcus Kilgore, and in-depth discussion of HR 4048 led by all of the SJSU students.

We were happy to have Jonathan Rhoades in attendance. Jonathan, who is a law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law, took the research that the GCCWP had done during the first Louisiana Winter trip last January and crafted the original bill.

Folks then broke down into 5 groups, and discussed in depth the following questions:

1) What part of bill are you most excited about? Do you have any concerns about the bill?
2) What has worked on your campus to promote social justice causes? In light of that learning, how can we bring/promote HR 4048 at your campus?
3) How do we build a national student coalition around HR 4048?
4) Do you have a powerful experiences in New Orleans that you want to share? Does it connect to the GCCWP?
5) Have you experienced Katrina fatigue on your campus? And if so, what have you done to overcome it?

We then discussed the various GCCWP Campaigns. Chris Hauck and Roberto Garcia-Ceballos talked about the Myspace and Facebook campaign entitled "Bring the Gulf to the Debates."

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, is working with two of its closest allies on this project, which are Louisiana ACORN and RFK Center for Human Rights.

As you might be aware, the Gulf Coast has barely been mentioned in the debates. Jeffrey Buchanan from RFK has found that during the 12 Republican debates, the Gulf Coast has never been mentioned, and that in the Democratic debates, the Gulf Coast has not done much better, with less than one percent air time provided to discuss the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

Harold Bell discussed our campaign to get 100 co-sponsors on HR 4048 before March 1st. GCCWP folks plan on meeting with our respective Congress members throughout the country. We will also encourage others to phone and email their representatives.

Lily Perez discussed the KatrinaRitaVille Express tour, and how students can invite Derrick Evans ( to bring a FEMA trailer to your campus to dramatize the social condition in the Gulf Coast, and to promote HR 4048.

Latu Tapaatoutai and Victor Ngo discussed how campuses could sponsor Mardi Gras events on February 5 to "Celebrate for HR 4048."

Marcus Kilgore discussed our upcoming plans for a National Post-Katrina Summit on April 7-11. We invited the campuses in the room, as well as across the nation to participate in holding lectures, reading the names of the Katrina victims, creating a memorial with flags with the names of the victim on it.

Out of this discussion, Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton of SJSU, proposed that the GCCWP develop a campaign that celebrates the life of the Katrina victims. Many of the over 1,800 people who died have never had their pictures shown in the national papers, as the 9-11 victims were so appropriately displayed.

To correct this "oversight" and to humanize what has taken place and continues to take place, we talked about dedicating part of the GCCWP web site to pictures of the people who passed. They would be accompanied by a description from the family members of who the person was, what where their likes, etc.

Family members who do not have access to a computer could give it to a minister or community-based organization, and they could email it to us to post. They might also send it to the GCCWP through the mail.

The national gathering ended with a dance lesson from Carlyn Steward and Tena Flores to "Soulja Boy." These two SJSU women had many from the group up dancing to this tune.


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