Storming the Tower
A primer for student radicals at the University of Texas at Austin
Published by the Student Liberation Front
This is not a "how-to" guide. There is no step-by-step manual for social change. Likewise, there is no step-by-step manual for becoming an "activist."
We did not create this primer because we are more knowledgeable, more experienced or more credible than any other collective. We do not aim to indoctrinate anyone with our strategies, or lead anyone in our campaigns. No one can tell you how to live, how to fight, how to resist. This has to be done on your own.
But that doesn't mean we all shouldn't pass on what we have learned. We created this guide because we have dealt with four years of bureaucracy at this corporation, this educational factory. It seemed like by the time we got our bearings, and figured out how to operate in this massive bureaucratic machine we call a university, we were graduating.
This guide is to let you stand on our shoulders, and see farther than we possibly could. You may be an excellent public speaker, but don't know how to organize a demo. You may have participated in a civil disobedience, but don't know how to get school funding. You may be skilled in starting fires with electrical timers (kidding), but not know how to wheatpaste. Or you may be new to absolutely everything, in which case, thank you.
The administration puts up barriers to keep us from gaining power and the only way to destroy those barriers is to help the next wave of revolutionaries coming into the 40 Acres. So take this primer with the understanding that you now have an obligation to add to it, improve it, scam copies of it, and pass it on.
Fuck the tower. STUDENT POWER.
To do most things on campus, you need to be registered as a student group. You just need three students to do this. Pick up the application forms from Campus & Community Involvement (SSB 4.104), and follow these simple steps:
- Complete an application for registration and pay a $10.00 registration fee
After you register:
- Introduce yourself to Cheryl Wood. To reserve rally space, you must go through her.
- Set up a bank account in the Student Organization Bank (next to CCI). You need to complete a Bank Account Authorization Form, in which you pick who will have access to the account. There's no reason to have more than two people for this. The purpose of a UT bank account is to make transitions between semesters easier on the group. For more info. on student group banking, go to http://www.utexas.edu/depts/dos/cci/handbook.html.
- Set up a mailbox on campus. This can also be done in the CCI office. Route all mail through this address instead of through someone's apartment.
- Get some webspace. UT has space available for student groups, but it is overpriced. Try http://www.doteasy.com. They have space for 5 years for $90. They give you unlimited email addresses and plenty of space so you'll have room for photos. This fee also includes domain name registration.
- When you register your group, you will be asked to submit a mission statement. This part is very important because it will be posted on the UT Student Group webpage and it is how a lot of students get information about your organization. Make it concise and direct. Make sure it encompasses the general goals of your group without being too vague.
To spread the word about your group:
- Set a regular meeting time and space (see Section III).
- Make fliers and post them around campus (see Section VIII). Make sure the name of your group, contact info., and meeting time and place are clearly visible.
- Advertise in The Daily Texan. Announcing meetings and events can be done for free if you are registered student group.
- Make announcements in classes. It's more effective to make an announcement at the beginning since everyone is ready to leave at the end. You could also pass fliers around or write your information on the chalkboard.
- Start an email list and post notices of meetings and events. A free service for this is http://www.topica.com.
- Tabling is a great way to get your message out. It's also an effective way to get people on your mailing list and raise money (see Section VII).
Leading the Group
Expect to be the forerunner of the group and to do most of the work, even if you have hundreds of people on your membership list. But always be on the lookout for people with initiative to help share the responsibilities. Most groups are held together by a few strong people, with other volunteers working only when convenient.
- Accept that people will have different levels of involvement. You'll probably have a core group of active members who regularly attend meetings, as well as people who won't attend meetings but will help with specific projects if asked.
- Be grateful for every contribution, no matter how small, and never publicly criticize or embarrass anyone. People's activism thrives on encouragement and recognition rather than criticism.
- Avoid criticizing others behind their backs, even if you're speaking confidentially. If you need to criticize, criticize the act instead of the individual.
- Learn members' talents and interests and delegate accordingly. Find out what people are good at: who is good at designing posters, who has access to making copies, who has public speaking skills, etc.
- Don't insist that people adhere strictly to your beliefs and lifestyle before they join; as they learn, they will probably change. Just set a good example, provide them plenty of information, and let them move at their own pace.
- Be open to new ideas and encourage people to express themselves.
- Insist on accountability. Let members know that they are accountable to you and to the entire organization.
- Know your members' weaknesses, fears, and levels of maturity. Encourage them to push their comfort zones.
- Provide adequate information and resources. This is especially important when a member is taking on a particular task for the first time.
- Tolerate mistakes. Your members need to know that you trust them and that if they make mistakes, you will be helpful and encouraging to ensure they will make fewer mistakes.
- Communicate expectations and deadlines clearly.
Effective meetings lead to effective campus campaigns, and ultimately victories. They are a cornerstone of any campus organization. At face value, they seem pretty self-explanatory. What's so hard about getting a bunch of people together and talking about activism?
If you aren't careful, meetings can ruin your organization. Too many meetings, with too little action, can break an organization. Long, haphazard meetings can discourage new members and burn out activists.
If you have regular meetings, they should be held on the same day and time on a regular interval (weekly, biweekly, monthly). Some groups call meetings as they need them (this works best with small, close-knit groups). It just depends on what works best with the size and level of commitment of your group.
Before you plan a meeting, ask yourself a few questions:
- How many people (do you hope) will be there? It's better to have a room that's a little too small (it makes the meeting seem larger and more energetic).
- Do you want movable chairs (so you can form a circle)?
- Do you need a blackboard? Overhead? TV?
Think about these things, and then go to CCI (4th floor of the SSB). This is where you reserve rooms in all campus buildings, except the Texas Union. You'll need to fill out a form, listing dates, times and room preferences. There is a list available that details what rooms are open for reservations, and what features each room has (TV/VCR, moveable chairs). Take ten minutes and go check out a few of the rooms (it's worth your time). Then list your preferences. Once you submit the form, it takes a few days to get confirmation, so plan ahead.
Before the Meeting
- Put as much effort into preparing for the meeting as you do in the meeting itself. Before the meeting, talk with a few core group members about what needs to be accomplished, and plan an agenda that will meet those goals.
- Post fliers around campus, and list the meeting in the "around campus" segment of the Daily Texan (free). [The Daily Texan is in the basement of the Texas Student Publications building, across from the CMA].
- Ask sympathetic professors if you can announce the meeting/group in class. This is a great way to generate interest. Be prepared to make a quick, punchy announcement that catches everyone's attention and leaves them wanting to know more.
- Arrange the chairs in a circle so people can see each other.
- Think about bringing food (vegan, of course) to entice new people to attend.
- Set up a table at the meeting with pamphlets, articles and zines relevant to your group (to give to newcomers).
During the Meeting
If your meetings are long, unorganized and non-participatory, don't expect to get people back for the next one. Here are some things to think about:
- Start on time.
- Introduce yourselves.
- Pass around a signup sheet for names, email addresses and phone numbers.
- Follow the agenda. Introduce each topic with a brief background statement and let the group know what type of action needs to be taken and how much time you will spend on each item.
- Don't lecture! There is a big difference between being a leader and a dictator.
- Keep the meeting moving. Focus on the matter on hand and keep the discussion on track. Get everyone to participate by asking questions of people who aren't contributing so that they'll be brought into the meeting.
- Make sure newcomers are included.
- For each item on the agenda, write down all ideas on a chalkboard. This serves as a "group memory" of what has been discussed, and helps the meeting stay focused.
- After brainstorming, pick a smaller number of priority goals on which the group agrees. Choose tangible, realizable goals such as planning a table.
Before Everyone Leaves the Meeting
- What will be done?
- When will each task be completed?
- How will it be done?
- Who will do it?
- Announce when and where all upcoming events will be.
- Make sure each person leaves the meeting with something to do. People drop out if they don't feel like they're doing something. Create a sense of commitment to the group.
- End the meeting on positive tone.
- Stick around to answer questions.
Consensus is a method of planning, typically associated with anarchist collectives, that is used to eliminate some of the hierarchies that emerge in organizations. It is used to make sure all voices are represented, and that no one is pressured into "just going along."
Before beginning a discussion, some groups ask everyone to agree to certain things (like not interrupting anyone, or not speaking twice until everyone has spoken). After that, it's just a normal discussion. If a lot of people want to speak at the same time, someone needs to volunteer to keep a "stack." A stack is just a list of everyone who wants to speak, in the order they raised their hands. This is meant to keep the discussion flowing smoothly, and allow everyone to speak uninterrupted.
If a specific decision needs to be made, the group must have consensus (hence, the name of the process). This can be done by saying "agreed" or by making a gesture (like raising your hand).
This is a very, very brief description of a complicated, and often difficult, process. Our only advice is to experiment with consensus and find what works (if anything) for your collective. It is hard to reach consensus with a large group, but at the same time it allows everyone to speak in an organized way. At some points, consensus can be very frustrating. At other points, it is extremely rewarding to find out you have worked through a difficult decision, and have the support of the entire group. If the method of consensus we have described here does not work for your group, alter it or create a new method.
If your group is having a very difficult time using consensus, ask yourself some questions. What is being lost by focusing so much on the process of consensus? Are animals dying in a university lab? Is a professor about to be fired? At the same time, what would be lost by abandoning consensus? Would the group lose solidarity? Would the campaign ultimately suffer? In other words, don't lose sight of your goal. Don't let consensus bind you, but be aware of what you are sacrificing if you abandon it.
|Josh Harper Event
|Carol Adams Event
|Meat Out on March 20
|HLS this Friday
How to Bring a Speaker
Bringing a speaker to UT is a great way to create dialogue about your group and the issues it deals with. It's a good idea to plan for at least one big speaker every year.
- First, contact the speaker and discuss available dates. Try not to set the date for a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Students are more likely to attend on a weeknight.
- After you set the date, make a timeline of what you need to get done before the event. Pace yourself and don't leave everything to the last two weeks.
- You'll have to reserve a space on campus for the event. Room reservations must be made in the SSB (see Section III). Speakers generally require an auditorium (rooms like GAR 1 and the CMA auditorium are good for speakers).
- Make a budget. You'll need to find out where the speaker will be staying, flight estimates, food costs, and the speaker's fee. You can find this info on the web. Once you have the budget, you can start asking for money.
- Ask for funding from the Texas Union Events Co-sponsorship Committee. The ECC has funding for events on campus. Applications are available at the Student Activities Center Desk (4th floor of the Texas Union) and must be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the program. They could run out of money before they get to you, so apply early. For more information call 475-6648.
- You can also apply for funding with the University Residence Hall Association. Go by their office (located in Jester West #0006) or download the application online http://www.utexas.edu/students/urha. You must turn in your application the Friday before their next meeting, and they only meet every other week.
- You'll have to make a short presentation to the ECC and the URHA before they will approve you for the amount you request. In the presentation you must stress the importance of the issue and impact your speaker will have on the university community. Emphasize how your group will attract different types of students at UT. See sample ECC application attached.
- Once you are approved, you need to begin publicizing your event. This is usually part of the budget and ECC will fund that. You can design flyers and posters in the Graphics Lab in the Texas Union on the 4th floor (see Section VIII).
- Advertise your event:
- By tabling
- On the UT calendar of events
- On KVRX Student radio as a Public Service Announcement (495-5879). Free.
- In the Daily Texan, the Austin American Statesman, and the Chronicle for free (see Austin Media List for contact information). You can also purchase quarter-page ad space in these papers. Budget them into your funding applications; you may be able to have them paid for.
- On any listserves you belong to. A good one to post on is the NoWar list. It is a progressive events list for Austin, with thousands of members. Email Rahul, firstname.lastname@example.org. Also publicize it on the Austin Peace and Justice Coalition listserv. Email Austin_PJC@yahoo.com
- Contact other student groups around campus who might be interested and attend their meetings to advertise your event. Ask if they can post announcements to their list-serves as well.
- The day of the event: Arrive at the room one hour ahead of time. Set up the equipment you will be using and make sure it works. Lay out literature on a table at the back of the room, or outside the room. Lay out books (especially if the speaker has published) to sell for fundraising.
- As people arrive: Be at the door to greet people. Hand them a program (if you made some) or any related literature. Circulate a sign-up sheet.
- When the event begins: Introduce yourself and mention your group and any other groups that may have co-sponsored the event. Introduce the speaker and thank him/her. After the presentation, monitor the Q&A for time purposes. When the Q&A is over, thank the speaker and everyone in the audience for coming. Ask if everyone had the chance to sign the sign-up sheet and remind them of the table at the back. Urge them to get involved with the issue discussed and let them know how they can.
- After the event: Write a follow-up letter summarizing the event and post it to the e-mail list. Suggest any actions members can take to get involved. Write a short thank-you to the speaker.
Films and Film Series
- Set a date for the film screening and reserve a room for the screening. If the film is long (1-2 hours) and a large audience is expected, you can reserve the Union Theater. Reservations for all facilities within the Union are made at the Reservations Office (room 4.300B). Call 475-6677 for more information. If the film is short (under 20 min.) you may want to show it at your general meetings.
- Follow the same publicity procedures as you did for bringing a speaker. You may or may not wish to apply for funding with the ECC. If this is your big event for the year, go for it. It will help with advertising. If you plan on bringing a speaker later in the year, hold off on asking for funds for your film event. The ECC probably won't give you money for two events (unless they are really great events that can bring a huge crowd). However, the URHA may be willing to give you money for more than one event. Apply for funds with them for every event you have on campus.
If you have several films that you want to show, it may be a good idea to set up a semester-long film series. Showing films twice a month is great way to get people involved in your group and to get people talking about the issues your group deals with.
A good example of a successful film series is the "Free the Media" film series that was held in Spring 2001. A different film regarding media issues was shown bi-monthly. It generated a large audience and opened up some great dialogue concerning the problems with corporate-owned media.
- To put on a film series you must make a timeline and a list of all films you will show during the semester. Show the films in the same room, at the same time, and on the same night of the week each time.
- You can advertise in the same way as the speaker event and film screening, but since this is a semester-long event, you will have to go a little further. Update the PSA's at the radio station and newspapers. Also, list the entire semester's film schedule on your webpage. Make sure you send reminders to your list serve at least 3 or 4 days before the film.
- Show up to each film night 30 minutes early to set up and to test the tape and the equipment. Make sure there are enough chairs and that the TV screen is visible from everywhere in the room. After the film is over, open up the floor for questions and comments. Monitor the discussion, and if it's going slow, start talking about an interesting point and get people involved. At the end, remind people of your next film in the series and give a quick synopsis of what it's about. Direct people to your literature table and make sure everyone has signed the sign-up sheet.
The Propaganda Model: Some Contemporary Applications
A lecture by Edward S. Herman
Submitted to the Events Co-Sponsorhip Committee
by the Alliance for Media Reform
- Introduction and Speaker's Biography
Answer to Questions in CRB Application form
- UT Organizations
Introduction and Speaker Bio
We live in a media culture. Our lives revolve around interaction with media: the newspapers we read, television we watch, music we listen to and advertisements we see everywhere. Because media plays such a major role in our lives, it is crucial that we understand how it is created, and how it affects us. Edward S. Herman is in a unique position to help us understand these issues.
After earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, Herman joined the faculty at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and for 30 years taught courses in micro and macro economics and financial regulation. In addition to work on economics and political economy, Herman has become widely known for his research and writing on U.S. foreign policy and media analysis. He also taught courses on "The Political Economy of the Mass Media" and "The Analysis of Media Bias" at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania for a decade.
Herman combines his extensive, diverse experience to explain the politics and economics that go into defining what is "news." In Manufacturing Consent, his groundbreaking work with Noam Chomsky, he develops the idea of "filters" that shape the news stories we see on television or in the paper. Herman merges theoretical concepts with concrete data and analysis to examine media coverage. Herman's propaganda model laid the foundation for much contemporary media analysis.
As a professor emeritus of finance, Herman has maintained his active writing and public speaking schedule. In his lecture, "The Propaganda Model: Some Contemporary Applications," Herman will use the propaganda model to explain recent news events such as the presidential election, NAFTA, and the chemical industry and its regulation. How were these stories covered? How can we explain the final news product, and understand it better?
To participate in a democracy, we need information to make our decisions. Herman presents a compelling argument that we must critically examine the information we rely on, and question the impact it has on our lives.
Answers to Questions in CRB Application Form
- What are the goals and purpose of this program?
Media is something that affects absolutely everyone. The goal of the program, then, is to encourage discussion of how media affects our lives. Specifically, the program aims to explain how contemporary news events are reported, and how to critically examine the information we are presented. Inviting a nationally recognized expert in the field gives the entire UT community -- faculty, staff, administrators, and students -- an opportunity to critically examine the information we are presented everyday.
We will book a campus auditorium for Herman's main public lecture. We anticipate an audience of 200 to 300 people (note: the event actually drew over 400!).
Herman's talk will be of special interest to students in the College of Communication. However, Herman has a diverse background and is recognized for his work in economics, political economy and foreign policy. In addition to journalism, RTF and advertising students, Herman will draw students from American studies, public affairs, finance, economics and government. We also expect significant attendance from the local professional journalism community and media-related fields. Finally, the lecture will be of interest to the general public, and we will do publicity and outreach in the community.
Herman has lectured both in the United States and abroad for more than three decades. Although he takes a critical stance toward institutions in the culture, he is known for his ability to connect with audiences that include a wide range of people and political opinions. That is due in large part to his exhaustive research and thoughtful analysis. Herman's lectures are grounded in careful study, not polemics.
Among his recent lecture topics have been:
"Media Evolution and the Erosion of the Public Sphere"
"Privatizing Public Space"
"The Market Versus Democracy: NAFTA, the WTO, and the New Corporate Sovereignty"
"The Media Versus Democracy"
"From Security to Insecurity State"
Talent Fee: $500
Air Fare: $400
Hotel: $200 (Paid by the department of journalism)
Venue rental: no charge (Campus Auditorium)
Sound/Lights: $150 (Paid by the department of journalism)
Chronicle ad: $550
No admission charge.
- Department of Journalism ($350)
Cosponsors' contribution: will pay for food, local transportation, hotel, venue rental, sound/lights and incidental expenses of speakers.
Total request to ECC: $1,700
1. Alliance for Media Reform
Contact: Will Potter
The Alliance for Media Reform is a student organization that encourages discussion of media-related issues through public lectures and informal meetings. Early this year, the organization brought Jim Hightower, nationally-syndicated radio host and author, to speak to the UT community. The group will also be sponsoring a video-and-discussion series on media topics this spring.
2. National Association of Black Journalists- UT
Contact: Stefani Carter, President
The student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists works to increase awareness of racial issues in the media, and to assist black journalists in their career goals. NABJ offers: a job fair, resume workshops, internship information sessions, and brown-bag lunches with professionals. Students also bring speakers to the University to discuss journalism-related issues. Most recently Pamela Newkirk, journalist and well-known scholar of race studies, spoke at the University and drew many students, faculty and local journalists.
Ed Herman Bibliography
Among his 22 published books are:
- The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979).
- Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981).
- Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador (with Frank Brodhead, South End Press, 1984).
- Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988).
- The "Terrorism" Industry (with Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990).
- Beyond Hypocrisy: Decoding the News in an Age of Propaganda, With a Doublespeak Dictionary (South End Press, 1992).
- Triumph of the Market: Essays on Economics, Politics, and the Media (South End Press, 1995).
- The Myth of the Liberal Media: An Edward Herman Reader (Peter Lang, 1999).
- Most recently he published Degraded Capability: Media Coverage of the Kosovo War (co-edited with Philip Hammond, Pluto Press, 2000.)
- Regular "Fog Watch" column in the monthly Z Magazine.
- Published numerous articles on economics, finance, foreign policy, and media analysis in a wide array of professional and popular journals.
If there is a specific issue you want to target and you've got all your facts together, you are ready to organize a campaign. If not, do some research first (see Section XII).
A campaign is a long-term plan of action focused on one particular issue. Set an ambitious but achievable goal, plan escalating levels of action, and be prepared to stick with it until you win. As part of a campaign, you may stage protests and civil disobedience. Or you may choose a sustained public education effort of tabling, leafleting and public meetings. By using a well-thought-out strategy and an escalating level of action, you may be able to do anything from getting more veg meals in the dining halls to stopping an abusive research project.
A campaign requires a great deal of planning, commitment, and organization. While it's possible to do this alone, the support of others is very desirable. Once you get going, others will join you. You, however, must expect to lead the way.
Your first step is to thoroughly research your opponents. Make a list of their strengths and weaknesses. What arguments will they use to defend their position?
Think about the information you gather. What do you hope to achieve? In other words, what are your demands? What is the minimum you will accept?
If you've got a good target, start developing your strategy. Begin by designing a timetable for your campaign. Then establish short-range goals that help keep momentum going and bring you closer to your target. You can escalate your tactics as needed until you are successful.
Decide whose support you really need to win. Don't just say "the public." Which part of the public? Which groups or individuals in particular? Consider how to reach them. You may not even need public support to win. Whose support can you count on from the beginning? How will you work with those people? Analyze how you will win over or neutralize the opposition. Prepare for countercharges. What claims will your opponents make to defend their actions? How will you refute them?
Choosing Your Strategy
You may be able to accomplish your goals with little effort, such as a letter-writing campaign or a series of leafleting and tabling activities. Believe it or not, some campaigns do not require demonstrations or rallies. Start out small, and build from that. It would be a bad idea to start a campaign with a civil disobedience, for example, because it's hard to escalate your tactics after that.
Here are some general strategies to follow:
- Try to communicate with your opponent. Write to the head of the company or organization, politely state your grievance and ask for action. Give them time to respond, but give them a deadline so they don't leave you dangling forever. It's always possible your opponent is unaware of abuses, and there may be room to negotiate a change. Regardless, if you don't go to the source of the problem first, your credibility will be impaired.
- Document your communications. Keep copies of letters and a written record of telephone calls.
- Before you go public, try to get some expert opinions to back you up. Such statements lend credibility to your campaign and make it easier to convince the public and officials.
- Produce some basic campaign literature: a factsheet, a background/history sheet, an alternatives sheet, a page of expert opinions, and a short letter that lists your demands and tells people what they can do to help. These provide essential factual information for the public and for the media.
- Arrange a meeting with any official related to this issue - this could be the mayor's office, the university president or a regulatory agency. Clarify the facts about the issue and the changes you are proposing and try to get their support. State the problem, your demands and what you want the official to do.
- Build a coalition by talking to other campus groups. Ask them to pass a resolution or write a letter supporting your issue. Try to get support from local and national groups.
- Develop an "emergency response" telephone tree early in the campaign and keep it up to date. It should be separate from any other telephone tree and should include only those who can demonstrate or take other action on a day's notice.
- Give your opponent a second chance to negotiate with you. This may also be the time to issue an ultimatum if negotiations are unsuccessful.
- When you escalate to a new level, don't abandon your original activities. Public education should be a constant effort, complementing all your other tactics.
Holding a demonstration is a visual way to call attention to a problem or issue. To plan a demonstration, you need to answer these questions:
- What do you want your opponent or target to do? What are your demands?
- What do you want the public to do or learn?
- Will it be silent, noisy, raucous, or peaceful?
- Will you need a permit from the police or city hall? Do you need to reserve a space on campus? Will you accept these regulations or choose to violate them?
- What types of visual aids (posters, banners, costumes) will you need?
- What type of leaflets will you hand out?
Chances are better for media coverage if you stage the event during work hours on weekdays. During the weekend you may get a better turnout of demonstrators, but media coverage is less predictable. Although a demonstration is usually worthwhile, you'll be less in the public eye without media coverage. Don't overlook holidays. They're light news days and a nice public interest story might be appealing to the media. Pick your time carefully so you don't conflict with a major sporting or community event, unless you're responding to an emergency situation which gives you little choice.
Allow a few weeks to secure any permits you may need, but don't hesitate to organize a demonstration on a day's notice if you have to. You don't need a permit to hold a picket line on a public sidewalk, as long as you don't block the traffic on the sidewalk or go into the street. On campus you don't need a permit, but there are only two places where you can use amplified sound, the West Mall steps (AKA the "Rally Space"), and the area in front of Gregory Gym. You have to reserve these spaces in order to use them. To reserve these spaces, talk to Cheryl Wood in the SSB. Permits for street marches are usually needed weeks in advance.
Make some posters to display, or order some from national organizations. Prepare a short handout that explains the issue. Make sure your leaflet lists your demands and what the public can do to help.
Before you hold your demonstration, you can get your group together for a sign making party. It's a good way to bring new people into the campaign, and make them feel that they are involved. Use pictures and slogans that illustrate the issue simply and dramatically. Stay away from offensive language that will turn people off. Use stencils (but fill in those gaps) so the lettering looks neat, and make sure the signs will be readable from a distance.
Decide ahead of time who will be the media spokesperson for the group, but make sure everyone has a short statement prepared for the media or a bystander's question. If you are going to wear a mask or any type of costume, do not be the spokesperson; the audience will want to hear from an authority figure.
Keep in mind that you may be photographed by the media. Make sure your group dresses neatly and conservatively (unless you decide to wear costumes). Any look far outside of the mainstream may only draw attention away from the important issue at hand. Your audience will trust you more if you look like them.
Some people get very angry at our suggestion that people dress conservatively for demos. "I won't change who I am," they say, "If people don't accept how I look, screw ‘em."
Yes, we live in a beauty culture with rigidly defined social norms. Yes, that must be changed. No, you shouldn't shop at the Gap and try to fit in with that. However, we want people to pay attention to our message, not our clothes. When people see someone punked or hippied out, they don't think, "Wow, that student is so independent." They think, "Wow, what a wacko, I would never agree with what they're saying."
Covering tattoos, removing piercings, and dressing mainstream for a few hours does not make you a sellout. It just means that you are willing to put the campaign before fashion.
Prepare short and easy-to-understand chants ahead of time. Chants make more people take notice and want to know what is going on, in addition to making good audio background for the media. Chants should be well thought out, as this may be the only thing people hear from you - make them meaningful. It's a good idea to assign someone to keep the chants going throughout the demo.
Remind people not to smile or laugh if they're protesting a serious abuse and ask them ahead of time not to chat, smoke or look bored during a demonstration. Make sure everyone knows never to argue or make derogatory comments to bystanders, even if they are rude or hostile to you. You don't want potential allies or the media to see you looking less than controlled.
Notify the media (see Section X).
Keep your group together, and remind them discretely to hold their signs so that they can be clearly seen and photographed.
Take photographs so future members can see what you did. Post them on your website.
Afterward, evaluate the event. Note what worked well and what could have been done better.
Using Civil Disobedience
As your campaign continues to escalate, you may want to consider doing a civil disobedience (CD). CD is the open, deliberate, and non-violent violation of the law for political or social reasons. It can be either direct or symbolic action or non-cooperation and usually leads to an arrest..
Try not to be afraid of it. The powers that be depend on the fear of arrest and jail to maintain the status quo. CD breaks that power and creates a sense of fearlessness in people trying to make a change.
CD is usually considered one of the last resorts (besides covert, underground action) to escalate an ongoing campaign, used only after you have tried to negotiate legally and cooperatively with your opponent. Don't expect the public (especially the employees of the target group) to be sympathetic unless you have educated them about the issue beforehand.
CD is used to dramatize an issue, to confront or shut down an abusive organization, to get publicity on an issue, or simply to energize a movement.
There are many types of CD. Three basic types are sit-ins, blockades, and occupations. For info. on other types of CD (i.e. banner drops, tri-pod sits, etc.), see the Ruckus Society (http://ruckus.org) and Earth First! direct action manuals. Sit-ins are usually announced and planned in secret. Publicity is essential when leaving (either voluntarily or under arrest) the sit-in. Blockades include blocking doors, roadways, or movement in general. Small blockades are usually planned in secret, while a large blockade may have to be announced in advance. Occupations are essentially mass sit-ins, which are most effective when planned in secret.
How to Plan for CD
Here are some factors to consider:
- How will you deal with police confrontations or citizen interactions? To make sure everyone in the group will react in the same way, work out various scenarios that could occur and how you'll handle each one. (If you want to get arrested, what actions are you willing to take? If you don't want to get arrested, how will your group proceed?)
- When will you hold the action and how long will you sustain it? Weekdays are best. Will you leave at a set time even if you haven't been arrested? Do you have the people and resources to continue for several days?
- Is this a one-time event or do you anticipate future CDs?
- What would make you decide to postpone or stop the demonstration? What will you define as a victory?
- How will you publicize the action?
- Who will be the spokesperson for the group? One person should be assigned to do media work and nothing else.
- Who will be in charge of support people? Support people do not get arrested and are responsible for taking care of things like media, transportation, supplies, bail, legal problems, and caring for the children or animals of those in jail.
- You may want to consider having a CD training session. Just remember, even PLANNING a CD is a violation of the law, so you may not want to call it a training session...maybe you could call it "A History of Civil Disobedience" and describe tactics other people have used in the past.
Know Your Rights
When participating in demonstrations and/or CDs, it is very important to know your rights. If you plan on getting arrested, bring your ID and NOTHING else. Police should not have access to address books or phone numbers, so leave your bag or wallet at home! You should leave important information, such as any medications or food allergies you have, with support people. Write contact information in permanent marker on your arm.
The following are some of your basic legal rights:
- Disobeying a lawful order is a misdemeanor that can result in arrest. Orders such as "Empty your pockets" or "Let me see what's in the bag" are not necessarily lawful demands; however, going limp, struggling or forcibly resisting an officer may result in a valid arrest, in which case a search CAN properly be made.
- A judicial officer determines bail (the conditions for release from jail before the trial) by considering the arrestee's ties to the community (e.g., family, job) and whether the arrestee has shown up for previous court appearances.
- If questioned by the police prior to or after an arrest DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS AND DO NOT TALK TO THEM. If you have been arrested, provide only your name and address (to speed up the booking process). Anything else you say, however innocuous, can be used against you in court later or could even result in you being subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. If you are asked further questions, simply say, "I wish to exercise my right to remain silent," or "I wish to speak to my attorney." Saying anything else could jeopardize your, as well as others', security. You may need to give certain information, such as how long you have lived at your address, in order to get bail. Discuss this with your legal advisor before the action and give ONLY this information.
- A police officer can't legally arrest you or search you or your property without reasonable cause. They can, however, search you or your property if you allow them to. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO DO THIS. If you are not under arrest and they ask to search you or your property, simply say, "I do not consent to a search." If they search you or arrest you without a reasonable cause, you can consider filing a civil suit against the officer.
- A misdemeanor is a "lesser" offense. Examples include posting fliers (defacing property) or interrupting a fur show (disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct).
- You are entitled to one phone call after your arrest. That call should be to your lawyer or to the head support person, depending on what arrangements w ere made in advance.
- A more serious crime - such as damaging property, or liberating animals - would be a felony in most jurisdictions. A felony is an offense punishable by a year or more in prison. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony and earn no more than the maximum income for your area, the state must appoint a lawyer to defend you.
Tabling is an excellent way to reach the university community. It's also one of the most fun. You get to meet and talk with people face to face and know that one more person has been exposed to your message. You don't have to table with a group to reach people effectively; you can reach lots of people on your own. You do, however, have to be with a registered student organization to table on campus.
Table regularly. Have info. on all topics, an email signup, meeting fliers, petitions.
To table on campus, you must reserve a table for your group. The reservation can be made at the CCI office on the fourth floor of the SSB.
Table reservations are good for two week increments and can be renewed over the web at http://www.utexas.edu/depts/dos/cci/index.html. Click on Room Reservations. Then click on Online Booth Installation Application and fill out the form. You must keep a copy of the reservation document and give one copy to the information desk on the first floor of the tower. You will check out your table at this desk.
In order to get a good tabling spot on the West Mall, set up your table early (around 10 a.m. or before). The best spot is the area under the trees directly across from the West Mall steps. This spot has a lot of pedestrian traffic.
There are regulations you have to follow when setting up a table on campus:
- You have to have your group name on a sign or banner on the front of your table.
- You are not allowed to accept money (i.e., selling merchandise or food, or accepting donations) without reporting it.
- There are many regulations in the Student Group handbook. Read through it. Some regulations are worthwhile and some are worth working around.
Things to have at your table:
- Make sure you have plenty of copies of each piece of literature you are handing out. Remove the rubber bands from pamphlets so people can take them easily. If you run out of something people are interested in, let them know when you will be tabling next and get some more!
- Always have a donation jar. Put some change and some dollar bills inside to encourage people to give you some dough.
- Make sure you have plenty of sign up sheets (for your mailing list) and plenty of pens that write.
- Don't forget your rocks! Yes, your literature will blow away if you don't have anything to hold it down, so get some rocks.
- Always have something people can take with them that has your group name, contact info., and meeting times on it. A small quarter-sheet flyer is perfect.
- Props and displays are good to have. They get people's attention and draw them to your table.
If visitors to your table seem interested, ask them to sign up on your mailing list. Make sure they take the most important pieces of literature on your table. Ask them to get involved in some way, like by calling a company you are targeting or writing a letter. Always say thank you and be friendly.
Don't spend too much time on one person. You could miss contact with others who may be interested. Be especially sure not to waste time on someone who disagrees with you. You could alienate people who overhear the argument. Instead, clarify your position briefly, express regret at your disagreement, direct the person to related literature (or recommend books or websites they could check into), and turn to someone else as quickly as possible. You may feel like you're "backing down" but arguing at a table is a waste of time and could cause you to miss potential supporters.
Don't get frustrated if you feel you haven't reached someone. You never know what seeds you're planting. Talking to you may be the first time someone ever considered that there might be something wrong with the way they perceive the issues raised at your table. Most people won't change overnight, but even if someone seems unsympathetic, you're planting seeds that can lead to a change later.
Above all, remember to smile, be friendly and be patient. You, too, were once unaware of the abuses you are working to remedy. Let others know that your background is much like theirs, but that once you learned about various abuses, you decided to take action.
Making Your Own Leaflets
A. Making words count
- People won't read a long, complicated leaflet. So keep your sentences short and clear, and don't use language or acronyms your audience may be unfamiliar with. Use descriptive headings, subheadings and quotations to get your main points across, and use three or four headings to a page so that if people only read the headlines they will still get the message.
- The leaflet must answer the questions: what, where, when, why and who.
- It must tell people specifically what they can do to help. Include a telephone number and contact.
- If you make outlandish, loaded statements, readers won't take the information seriously. Words like "oppression," "injustice," and "ridiculous" can be heavy. Rather than telling someone that something is an injustice, explain it so that they can't come to any other conclusion.
- You don't have to be an art major or a computer programmer to make badass fliers. Microsoft Word is an incredibly easy, powerful design tool. Yes, Microsoft sucks, but they made a good program.
- Open up Microsoft Word. Go to FILE, then PAGE SETUP and pick the orientation of your file (horizontal or vertical?). Click VIEW, TOOLBARS, DRAWING. This brings up a bar of handy icons. You can make lines, insert text boxes, and add images.
- After you insert a picture, (do this by clicking INSERT, PICTURE, FROM FILE) double click on it. This brings up a menu of other things you do to the image. Click the LAYOUT tab and click "in front of text." This makes it so you can move the image anywhere on the screen by dragging.
- In some Word programs, when you click FILE, NEW you can choose to use a template (there are a few types, like brochures, leaflets). Pick one, and mess with it to make it your own.
- Here are some general design tips:
- Keep a file of well-designed, easy to read leaflets. Look at what others have done, decide what you like and what works best, and copy it.
o Students have access to incredibly powerful computers on campus. Take advantage of these. Also, take advantage of the artists and designers in your groups. Learn from each other.
- White space is a design element. Don't box in everything. It makes the leaflet feel heavy.
- PROOF READ. Spelling and grammar errors, and poor writing, hurt credibility.
- Don't use small print. Write concisely instead.
- Don't write out fliers by hand. Typed fliers are easier to read, and look more "professional."
- Use simple fonts, like Ariel or Helvetica. These are san serif (without the little feet).
- Check out http://www.webmonkey.com for tutorials in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe PageMaker.
Handing it Out
Students don't need to have fliers approved before handing them out, although many college campuses require this. There aren't restrictions to where students can leaflet, but the West Mall and South Mall are the most trafficked areas.
Don't wait for people to approach you. They won't. Walk up to them and explain what you are doing. If you're having a demo or teach-in, say something like, "This explains why we're out here today," then move on. If you are just handing out leaflets, say a quick, interesting statement. For example, if leafleting sweatshop fliers you may say, "Information on Nike using child labor," then move on.
- Make eye contact and be confident, but don't be pushy.
- Hold the flier so the passersby can see the title
- Prepare some brief answers to questions you may be asked. If you're having a demo, you'll probably hear "who's doing this," and "what's this all about."
- Take people's telephone numbers if they seem interested, but don't spend all your time on one person.
- Don't waste time arguing. Say politely, "I think if you read this material, you may change your mind," and turn away.
- Leaflet in pairs. Or better yet, have one person staffing a table full of literature and another person passing out fliers and directing people to the table.
- Pick up discarded leaflets (including ones in the trash) before you leave.
- Depending on where you are leafleting, you may want to dress more conservatively so you seem more approachable.
Gather a few people together, and divide up the campus area.
- Posting fliers in dorms, and some buildings, requires a stamp of approval. Go to the information desk in the dorm, or a main office in a campus building, and get the fliers stamped. It's better than having them torn down.
- There are "kiosks" around campus (wooden things with fliers all over them). It's important to hit these, but remember that EVERYONE puts fliers there. Make sure yours isn't covered up (or torn down by opposition, which happens quite often). If you do put them there, make your flier stand out with a different color, size or shape of paper.
- Hit places like Wheatsville Co-Op, Sound Exchange, Metro coffee shop, etc. These places allow you to put fliers in their windows, if you ask first. Also hit apartment buildings around campus and student coops.
Wheatpasting is a more permanent form of advertising. Have you ever seen movie posters plastered one after another down the street? Wheatpasting is the punk rock version of that. It doesn't cause permanent damage, but it's hard as hell to get down. Because of this, it isn't suited for posting meeting fliers. But it is good for posting information on an on-going issue that isn't time dependent.
There are two strategies for wheatpasting: covert and overt. Some people swear that if you wheatpaste in the middle of the day, and act like you have every right to do it, people will believe that you have every right to do it and leave you alone. Others prefer to wheatpaste at night, moving quickly with a lookout or two. We haven't heard of anyone getting busted for wheatpasting, but it's always good to avoid confrontations.
Wheatpasting takes a little practice, but it isn't too difficult. Make the wheatpaste recipe and put it in a bucket (medium-sized, preferably with a lid). Hold the poster up to the wall, and using a paintbrush, evenly spread wheatpaste across the surface. You can also spread wheatpaste, then put up the poster, then cover it with another layer of wheatpaste to make it extra sturdy. After you paste up your poster, you can make horizontal and vertical slashes across the surface with a razor blade. This way, if someone tries to peel it off, the poster comes off in small bits (very, very frustrating for them!).
Letters to the Editor
Make it a point to read the Daily Texan, Austin American-Statesman and other media. Keep on top of what's in the paper, and use it as an excuse to make your voice heard. For example, anytime an animal-related issue is in the paper, Students Against Cruelty to Animals floods the paper with letters to the editor. Often, they have three or four printed in a single issue.
Some people dismiss letter writing as a waste of time. The mentality is that it is not "revolutionary" or "radical" enough. Letter writing should be looked at as a campaign tactic. A revolution may not come through writing letters alone, but it won't come through direct action alone, either. For every letter you have published in the paper, you keep your issue at the front of people's minds. It makes people realize your group is out there fighting. Also, every publication is kind of a small victory, and it keeps momentum going in the group. The bottom line is that if you are willing to organize a protest, or get arrested, or fight the cops, you can write a stinkin' letter once in a while.
Here are some tips for writing letters to the editor:
- Be brief! Sometimes one short paragraph is enough. Firing Lines for the Daily Texan have to be under 250 words, but try to make it even shorter: there's a better chance it will get in, and better chance people will get a clear message from it. Include your name, major, classification, and your student organization (if you want to make it look more formal). Guidelines for firing lines are on the Daily Texan Op/Ed page.
- Make the first sentence catchy, so it will get reader's attention.
- Use the writing style of journalists: Avoid flowery language, write in clear and concise fashion, and keep paragraphs to no more than two or three sentences.
- Stick to one issue. Most people can't address the downfall of modern civilization in 250 words.
- The letter should be timely. Send it the day of, if possible.
- Your chances of getting published increase if you can tie it into a news event or anniversary. Editors like pieces with a "news peg."
- Try to tell readers something they aren't likely to know. Whenever possible, tell something that readers can do.
- Keep personal attacks out of letters. You'll lose credibility.
- Most papers won't accept letters on behalf of a group. Have an individual sign it (group affiliation is OK, though).
- Most newspapers have a limit on how often a person can write. Find out what this is, and don't send more than the limit.
- Avoid self-righteous language and exaggeration. Readers will dismiss your arguments.
"Only a heartless sadist could continue to eat meat and dairy when any fool knows their lives are snuffed out in screaming agony for the satisfaction of people who can't be bothered to take a moral stand."
"Most compassionate people would stop eating animal products if they saw how horribly the animals are raised and slaughtered."
- Don't assume your audience knows the issue.
"Maxxam, the Houston corporation, cuts down 2,000-year-old trees to make 2x4s. Ancient forests are a national treasure, and are more important than paper products."
Writing to Legislators:
"Legislators estimate that 10 letters from constituents represent the concerns of 10,000 citizens. Anybody who will take the time to write is voicing the fears and desires of thousands more."
-former Congressperson Billy Evan
Some people refuse to write letters to legislators because they feel it is a waste of time, or because they do not support the U.S. government, or any government. This is a complicated issue. However, if you don't know if the letter you write will have any impact, why not choose to err on the safe side?
Writing a letter doesn't mean you are selling out, or that you support a fraudulent government. The SLF is composed of mainly anarchists, but we recognize that our movements need every tactic we have to bring about total liberation.
- Find out your state and federal legislators.
Or you can call 202-224-3121 and tell the operator your zip code.
- Identify yourself as a concerned citizen, NOT a member of an organization. Politicians will think you are pushing a group's agenda, rather than being a good ol' neighbor.
- Keep letters brief - no more than one page. If you're writing about a bill, mention the bill's name and number and whether you support or oppose it in the first paragraph. Include reasons and supporting data in the next paragraph. Conclude by asking for a response.
- Focus on a very specific topic.
- As few as 10 letters on any topic can sway a legislator's vote. An hour of letter writing every month may make a big impact.
Attached is a media list of Austin. Update this every year, to find out the new contacts. Try to keep profiles of your media contacts- whether they are sympathetic or hostile, what their deadlines are, what pieces they did in the past. If you are occupying the tower, you don't want to waste a valuable phone call on some schmuck that doesn't know you.
Your goal is to be a media contact on your "issue." You can do this by letting the media know you exist and cultivating sources. For example, members of the UT Radical Action Network often get calls related to nearly anything "progressive" on campus. This can be annoying, and sometimes humorous, but it's what we want. Make a name for yourself.
Start by sending letters to your media contacts, introducing yourself and your group. Include your group's factsheet and letterhead.
Reporters work against deadline. If you call reporters when they are rushing to meet a deadline, they will not like you. You're story won't get in (it just can't).
The best time to call morning papers is between 9:30 and 10 am. Don't call broadcast stations after 2:00 pm if you expect to be on the 5:00 news.
At the same time, remember to return calls promptly. Not doing so can lose a good contact.
Reporters need an "angle" for a story. An angle is something new, something different, something interesting. If your group has an on-going campaign, an angle could be a recent victory or new development.
So, what makes something news?
Timeliness- Reporters want the "scoop"
Proximity- Local is always better
Prominence- Big names, big developments
Conflict- i.e. hitting the UT President with a non-dairy cream pie
Oddity- "UT administrators decide they give a shit about students."
Importance- These are "official" stories like those about the board of regents.
- Pick someone who fits your audience or target population.
- Pick someone with experience, someone articulate
- Train people if necessary
Speaking with Reporters
- Never, ever speak off the record. This is a complicated issue, but there is ultimately no such thing. Realize that everything you say could be used to represent your organization. Don't joke around about how it would be funny to blow up corporate establishments on campus.
- Think of a couple of good points to make. Reporters usually start interviews with, "Why are you out here today?" Think about how you would answer that question. Try to make your point in two or three sentences (it's best not to memorize). They will follow up with more questions about what you just said. If they do this, be prepared to expand on your points.
- Don't get bullied into giving simple, one word responses. Explain your issue how you feel is adequate. It helps to write out responses to possible questions before an interview.
- Keep it short and simple. If the reporter asks stupid questions, keep repeating what you think is the important information. Say, "I don't think that's the issue. Here's what I think is important about our event."
- Don't be rude or sarcastic.
- Remember who the common viewer is. Make your point in a way that they find familiar. Even if they aren't likely to agree, make your point in a way they can comprehend.
- If during the interview you stumble or mess up, ask to start over. They will usually go along to get a good sound bite.
A news release is a short announcement of a newsworthy occurrence. News directors literally receive hundreds each day. If yours isn't concise and professional, it won't be read.
Writing a News Release
- Write a concise, catchy headline that summarizes the story. It should be written in the style of newspaper headline, using active verbs.
- Use the "inverted pyramid." This means putting the most important facts in the first paragraph, and supporting information in descending order, so that the least important information is last.
- The first paragraph should answer the five W's: who, what, when, where, why.
- Underline or bold the text that gives the location, time and date of the event.
- The time you tell the media should be the time you want them to show up. If the demo is at noon, tell them a little later so they don't show up to activists dawdling around and making signs.
- Never editorialize. Use quotations for opinions (quotes should be from individuals, not the whole group).
- The final paragraph should describe your group, and possibly give a historical reminder.
- Proofread! Eliminate redundancies, use short words and phrases. Simplify complex ideas.
- Remember: It's virtually impossible to correct a release once it goes out.
Formatting a News Release
- Use 8.5 x 11 inch regular white paper
- Your letterhead should contain your group's name and address
- The words "news release" should be at the top of the first page. Always refer to releases as "news releases," not press releases. The same goes for "news conferences," not "press conferences."
- List a contact person, and phone number. Make sure they are available at that number, or include daytime, evening and work numbers. Email isn't a bad idea either.
- Type the date (it is sent out, not the date of the event) in the upper left corner.
- "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" appears in the upper left corner above the date.
- The headline should be centered and in capital letters. It should be about three spaces down from the heading above it.
- The body of the page should begin a third down the page.
- Leave wide margins for reporter's and editor's notes
- Don't use zeroes for time (use 11 a.m. not 11:00) and don't use letters after numbered dates (August 22 not August 22nd).
- Indent five spaces for new paragraphs.
- Never continue a release on the back of a page. It's best to have one-page press releases. If you have to, type the word "more" at the bottom and number each additional page at the top. Include a topic headline and your organization's name.
- Double space.
- At the end of the release, center "-30-," "#" or "ends."
Who to Send Them To:
Send the release to all TV, radio, daily papers, wire services, minority papers and alternative media outlets. See the attached list of Austin media. Update this list each year. If you do not have a media list, go to the library and ask for the Gale Directory of Broadcast Media and Outlets and make a list from this.
When to Send Out a Release:
What do you want to accomplish? Do you want coverage before the event, or do you want media to attend as it takes place? Film screenings, meetings and fundraisers generally fall in the "before category." Mail these releases ASAP. The more notice you give the media, the better your chances of getting covered.
If you are having a demo be sure to fax, email or hand deliver news releases the day before. Try to get a copy to a reporter and an editor.
The morning of the event:
- Call all media outlets that you sent out releases to and remind them of the event.
- Start calling as early as 7 a.m. or 9 a.m. In some cities, you can call later.
- Tell them who you are and what group you are with. Tell them that you are making reminder calls about your group's "demo at 1 p.m. at the State Capitol." Ask if they have any questions. If they seem clueless, ask if they received the news release. If not, re-fax.
- If you are doing a CD, now may be the time to alert the media about the action, if you trust them. If not, just say "arrests are expected."
- If no one answers, leave a message (include your name, group name, phone number where a contact can be reached, and why you're calling; time/place/reason for action) and keep it short.
During the event:
- Have a list of media contacts on hand, always.
- Call them if something unexpected occurs. They may think that's newsworthy.
- If you haven't alerted them about a CD, now is a good time to do it. If you are doing something like a civil disobedience, or if there is important breaking news, call the news desk and let them know what is going on (cell phones are wonderful for this). Just say, "Hello, I'm calling to let you all know that students are burning down the Tower because they are tired of being oppressed. Our phone number is... We have sent a news release to the news desk."
When media arrive:
- Introduce yourself as the media spokesperson
- Before the interview, ask if they have spoken to your opposition. Ask what was said. Give your interview while keeping in mind what the opposition said.
- Give out a media kit (see below). Include a business card.
- Take their name, phone number, and name of the media outlet.
After the event:
- After the demo, assign volunteers to get the coverage.
- If the newspaper covers your event, but the wire services don't, call them and tell them they can get the story from the local paper.
- Build a relationship with reporters by sending thank you notes. If the coverage wasn't great, but was decent, thank them for being fair.
Making a Media Kit
A media kit is a packet of info. to give reporters who come to your demonstration, event or news conference. Journalists are often pressed for time (and sometimes lazy) and it helps to have all your info. in one place, so they can reference it when writing. It also makes you look more professional. Media kits often include:
- A news release
- A Factsheet
- Black and white photographs (if you have them). Attach a sticky to the back that has what the photo is of, where it is, when it was taken, and who took it.
- Background/history on the issue.
- Copies of relevant documents (including fliers, leaflets)
- Biographies of key individuals and a "mug shot" photo with an identifying label on back. Don't laugh: they sometimes use these, and it helps people see that you don't look like the Unabomber (or if you do look like him, then, well, ha ha).
- Background on the organization.
- Put this all in a two-pocket folder. Put a label on the front with the group's name (and logo).
Working with Wire Services
Wire services are news-gathering agencies that sell stories to papers and radio stations (Associated Press, Reuters). If a story gets on the wire, it goes out to all subscribing papers. This is very important, because many newspapers decide what is "newsworthy" based upon what is on the wire.
Find the number for the local AP bureau, and send the bureau manager a letter describing your group. Supply the names, addresses and telephone numbers of contact people. Offer to supply information or the local angle on whatever you campaign for.
Always give two news releases to the wire services: one for the "daybook" and one for the editor. The daybook is a listing of scheduled events for the day. Assignments editors use this to decide how to assign reporters and camera crew. Send a release to the daybook about a week before.
You may be able to get a photo on the wire. If you had a large demo, take your roll of undeveloped black and white film to the bureau and offer it to them with a news release.
Doing Radio and Television Interviews
Call the station to learn who the assignments editor is. Find out her name and the best time to call. Send a release a few days before the event. If you call to remind them, be polite and don't call late in the afternoon. You'll get coverage if the event involves conflict or visual imagery.
Offer to be the guest on talk shows. You can reach tons of people this way. KVRX (student radio at UT) is required to broadcast a designated amount of "community programming." These are talk shows on a variety of issues. Look up the broadcast schedule, and give some of the deejays a call about their show. For student activists, this is a NECESSITY. People listen to KVRX, especially people in the dorms.
Always call in to local radio shows that are discussing a topic you are interested in. This is free media, and you can reach thousands of people.
If you are bringing a guest speaker or "expert" to campus, call radio and TV stations and offer interviews. Contact the stations several weeks in advance. Give a bio of their credentials, and list what they'd like to discuss. Give a list of people for "the other side" that they would be willing to debate.
Once you get booked on a show, listen and watch to prepare. Do the following:
- Study the issue.
- Practice being interviewed. Tape yourself.
- Anticipate difficult questions and plan your answers.
- Memorize good anecdotes and facts.
- Have a friend ask hostile, aggressive questions to prepare you.
- Decide on five main points you want to make. Memorize a fact or an example for each one.
- Try to make these five points even if you aren't asked the right questions. Don't feel limited to answering the question they ask. Practice saying, "the real question here is..." and "that relates to a larger issues, which is..."
- If you're doing a TV show, dress carefully. No black, white or bright red. Wear plain solids: blue and green photograph well. Don't fidget or touch your face.
- Make your point in 20 seconds or less. TV news shows look for sound bites- statements that can plug into a 60-second story.
- Speak slowly and carefully (without being too slow) and give yourself time to think before you answer.
- Don't say anything you wouldn't want edited out and aired separately.
- Don't worry about repeating yourself, but don't ramble.
- If the reporter is hostile, don't raise your voice or get flustered. Stay calm, and concentrate on making your five points. The reporter isn't your audience!
- Talk directly to the INTERVIEWER not the audience or camera. If you steal side glances at the camera, you'll look nervous or shifty.
Public Service Announcements
PSAs are 10- to-60-second notices that radio and TV stations are required to air (to balance advertisements, and present balanced coverage of issues). They are free to nonprofit and community groups. Campus radio and television stations are often thrilled to receive PSAs from campus groups.
The four standard lengths for PSAs are 10 seconds (25 to 30 words), 20 seconds (45-50 words), 30 seconds (60 to 75 words) and 60 seconds (120 to 150 words).
Here's an example:
More people live off research today than benefit from it. The traditional use of animals in experimentation must be replaced. Animals are not "tools for research." Their use is costly, unethical, inefficient and old-fashioned. Sophisticated, non-animal methods are available. Help us support their use. Students Against Cruelty to Animals. Visit www.utanimalrights.com.
Stations also air meeting announcements for a community calendar.
Send several copies of your PSA with a typed, double-spaced cover letter to the public service director of the station. Explain the purpose of your organization and your activities, and state why the station should use the PSA.
On the top left side, type the beginning date, the "kill date," and the length of the announcement in seconds and words.
Find out the deadline for PSA's- it may be two or three weeks in advance. Make a follow-up call to confirm they received it.
How to Get Free Press, by Toni Delacorte, Avon, New York, 1981
Grassroots Journalism: A Practical Manual, by Eesha Williams
News for Change: An Advocate's Guide to Working with Media, by Lawrence Wallack
We the Media: A Citizen's Guide to Fighting for Media Democracy, by Don Hazen
- Get to know your student media PERSONALLY. Go into the Daily Texan and meet the editor. What would it take to get her support?
- Ask for a regular column, or radio show, or TV show. Write regular letters to the editor.
- Find out who assigns the stories and talk to them.
- Deliver press releases in person.
Special thanks to Ernest and Bob for media advice.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Representative, Students Against Cruelty to Animals
(512) 477-1286, email@example.com
Beagle released from research facility.
AUSTIN- Student activists have successfully negotiated the release and adoption of Stampy, a Beagle housed at the UT Animal Resources Center, and forced a private corporation to end their contract with the University.
Cedra, an Austin corporation, has paid the UT center to house and kill 29 Beagles over 4 years for their organs. Cedra then made these organs into cell cultures, and sold them for considerable profit. Stampy, the last of the Beagles, was scheduled to die by the new year.
But because of the work of Students Against Cruelty to Animals, Cedra will release Stampy at a loss of profit, and UT officials have agreed.
"This is a major victory for the animals and for UT students," said Will Potter, a UT junior and SACA representative. "Not only have we saved Stampy's life, but we showed the University that we will not accept killing in our name."
Members of SACA visited the Beagles regularly throughout the semester, developing a personal relationship with the dogs.
Because of SACA's campaign, Student Government overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on UT administrators to save Stampy, and encourage alternatives to animal research.
The UT Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee will vote this month on SACA's proposal to ban the use of dogs for all research purposes at the University.
Public speaking is the number one phobia in America. Some people insist that they "just can't do it." Others are afraid or nervous, or may not know how to prepare.
Because of these excuses, the same activists end up speaking at all events, and doing all the media. They are typically white males. This is a problem.
Public speaking is one of the most important tools for activists, and everyone needs to improve their communication skills. Whether we are speaking to a large crowd at a demo, doing a TV interview, speaking to another group about joining our campaign, or talking to some students while tabling, communication skills are crucial.
Public speaking is something you learn through practice and through listening to good speakers. That should be the primary source of your education. But here are some written tips to get going.
- Before you go any further, who is your audience? Are you talking to another progressive group? Are you speaking on the West Mall to a bunch of random students? You need to think about who your audience is. Do you share any beliefs or experiences with them?
- How do you want to affect your audience with this speech? What do you want them to feel/think/do? Are you introducing a panel of well-known academics? Or are you trying to motivate people to follow you in occupying the Tower?
- Think of your audience and how "radical" your message should be, and then turn it up a notch. Try not to alienate people, but don't let this hinder you from saying what needs to be said.
- How you speak is as important as what you say. Shouting and waiving fists could be good to motivate a sympathetic crowd. It could also alienate passersby that are new to the situation.
"Writing" a Speech
- Some speakers insist on writing on speeches. Others speak from an outline. Others don't use either. It's up to you. You may want to write out a speech, to get your thoughts straight. Don't worry about spelling or word choice, just write it all down. Then, go back and pick five or so main points.
- Pick statistics and anecdotes that will prove these points. Try to "show" the audience rather than "tell" them. In other words, a great story, a powerful statistic or a thoughtful quote can mean more than 5 minutes of your rambling.
- Make this into an outline and practice speaking from it. Reading a speech is problematic: it looks fake, it's easy to screw up, and it separates you from the energy of the moment. Sometimes it's OK to go off on a tangent, or alter your speech.
- Establish your credibility by briefly giving your qualifications/experience or have someone introduce you. Saying, "I'm Jane with Radical Action Network. I was an organizer of the protests of Henry Kissinger" is pretty good.
- Open with an attention-getting fact, rhetorical question, story, or quote. Don't feel the obligation to make a joke if it isn't appropriate.
- You may challenge your audience, but don't sound too hostile.
- Keep it short and simple. Tell the audience what the problem is, what your solution is, and what actions they can take to bring about your solution.
- Don't give new info. at the end of the speech.
- Don't trail off at the end. End with an appeal to action.
- When you're writing the final version, use large font and type size. Only write 2/3 the way down the page, so it isn't that obvious if you look at your notes.
- If you will speak to a crowd, practice the speech standing up.
- Practice in front of a friend, and ask what you did well, and what you could improve on.
- Pace yourself. Use pauses and changes in volume.
- Remember eye contact, gestures and movement.
- Move briskly and purposefully, but don't be afraid to stand still. Stand straight, and keep your feet shoulder width apart, shoulders back (no this isn't boot camp). Your voice projects better this way, and you look confident, and feel confident. Don't point, put your hands in your pockets, or make gestures below chest level. Don't touch your face.
- Look at your audience, smile and make eye contact. Focus on one friendly face for a complete sentence, then move to someone else. Don't look at the floor or ceiling or stare at one person.
- Don't look at your watch. Take it off.
- DON'T HOLD ANYTHING IN YOUR HANDS YOU CAN FIDGET WITH.
- Try not to speak from the lectern. Learn to be confident with your posture.
- Don't use them unless it adds something to your speech that you can't get from your voice alone. Otherwise, you risk looking like a boring professor.
- If you use a visual aid, explain to people what they are seeing. Talk to the audience, not the visual aid.
- Aids should be simple and colorful (but red and green are hard to see from a distance). Don't reveal visual aids until you are ready to show them, then remove them.
- Too many visual aids are distracting.
Preparing for Question and Answer Sessions
- Q/A sessions can make you or break you. They can increase your credibility and demonstrate your knowledge, or the opposition can use it to make you look flustered and confused.
- In preparation, play the devil's advocate with other activists. Write down the hardest questions you can think of, and have others ask them in an aggressive way. Practice your answers out loud.
- Remember, tough questions aren't necessarily hostile. Someone may be generally interested, but not trying to burn you. So, don't be defensive in answering. If someone is hostile, stay cool. You must look calm and reasonable even if you don't feel that way. Listen carefully, be tactful and avoid using emotionally charged words like "obviously" when you answer.
- Use the "feel, felt, find" method to disagree with someone. "I understand how you feel. Others have felt that way. But I find in my experience that…"
- Answer to the entire audience, not just the questioner.
- If someone tries to monopolize the session, ask "what's your question" or "I'd be happy to hear comments afterwards, but this time is reserved for questions."
- You can "buy time" or collect your thoughts by repeating the question.
- If you speak sincerely and with conviction, you will reach your audience. They may not agree with you that day, but you will plant an idea in their minds.
Before you discuss publicly or launch a campaign, it is wise to know as much as possible about your target. If you don't have well-documented, specific complaints with clear demands for change, you'll appear poorly prepared and won't be taken seriously.
- Keep a record of everything.
- Make your requests for meetings or information in writing and keep copies for your records.
- You may want to get a post office receipt proving your letters were mailed.
- Whenever you are speaking with a company, university official, etc., make notes during the conversation and keep them on file. Include the time and date and the name and title of the person you spoke to.
The following subsection is focused on investigating animal research. This primer was not created solely for animal rights activists, but we believe that the tactics and skills described here can be applied to other movements.
Investigating Animal Research
UT, and all research institutions and labs, set up barriers to finding out exactly what goes on. It makes sense. If people had easy access to information, they would know what is going on, and they would be outraged.
Investigating animal research takes some practice. Some people get intimidated by the mere though of it, and never try. This guarantees failure, and it guarantees that animals will continue to die. You can't end the torture without first knowing exactly what the torture is.
Learning the Laws
First, become familiar with the Animal Welfare Act, the federal law that regulates the conditions under which animals are housed by dealers and labs while on public exhibit. It's online at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac. You can order a copy of the Act by calling the USDA at (301) 734-7833 or by writing to this address:
4700 River Rd., Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
Obtain copies of the state, county and city anti-cruelty laws. The county library may have them or you can try the law library on campus (727 E. Dean Keaton). You can ask the librarian to help you look up the laws.
Some other useful publications to have in your files are the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. These are not actually laws. They are government regulations. This means that enforcement is up to the discretion of the agency. However, they are a useful resource, and you can criticize labs that do not meet the standards of these guides. They can be found on the internet at: www.nih.gov/grants/oppr/library_animal.htm
Getting State and Local Info.
The easiest way to find out where animals are being exploited is to look in three publications from the USDA: Animal Welfare: List of Licensed Dealers; Animal Welfare: List of Licensed Exhibitors; and Animal Welfare: List of Registered Research Facilities. Each is organized by state and gives the mailing address for each facility. Call or write the USDA for copies.
Campaigns at UT will be directed at:
UT Animal Resources Center
Jerry Fineg- Director
Getting the Details
Now that we know where torture takes place, our task is to find out exactly what goes on, and for what purpose.
- The NIH is a division of the Public Health Service. Researchers apply to them for federal funding of experiments. The NIH Research Grants index is organized by state and city and gives the name of the principal researcher, the grant number, and the amount. This info. can be found at www.nih.gov. Here's a database that lists all the National Institutes of Health funded grants (both animal and non-animal): https://www-commons.cit.nih.gov/crisp/
- This is the website of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA. This is the agency that enforces the Animal Welfare Act. They have recently added online access to inspection reports for many facilities, including labs: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/
- This is a search engine that looks through medical journal articles: http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi
- This database catalogues all projects funded by the Department of Defense: http://www.scitechweb.com/acau/brd/
- Another step is to check the UT catalog for names of faculty in biology, psychology, physiology, pharmacy, and agriculture. Go to the departmental websites (which will often list current research). Then look up the faculty members in these departments in the author index of the Index Medicus, a multivolume resource that lists articles published each year by author and subject. The Index Medicus is available at any university or medical library - it does not contain copies of the articles themselves, but tells you which journal they were published in. Go look up the journals, read the article, and learn more about what the vivisectors are telling their colleagues.
- Another good source of info. is the Science Citation Index. Organized by author, it lists the research being performed by a particular institution or scientist, as cited in other publications during that year. This index is available in libraries here on campus. You can also access it online by going to the UT homepage and clicking Libraries. Then click on Indexes and Citations. They are alphabetized so click on S and scroll down until you get to Science Citation Index.
- Info. on research funded by the US Public Health Services (US-PHS) can be obtained via the internet by searching CRISP (Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects), a major biomedical database. This database is updated weekly and can be found at www.nih.gov. Try typing areas & kinds of animals into CRISP. This is a good way to find a particular researcher who might be a fulcrum point for researching. For example, some students type "feline and canine" in that box because people (animal welfarists) often resonate particularly with cat/dog experiments.
- An individual investigator
- The type of experiments being performed
- The investigators performing particular types of studies
- The universities, facilities, or institutions performing particular types of studies
- The dollar amount of grants
- The type(s) of animals used in an experiment.
A CRISP search can provide info. on:
Reading researchers' articles can be extremely valuable. You may find descriptions of very cruel experiments. It's useful to use the experimenter's own words to expose very abusive conduct. Also, reading the articles can prepare you to publicly criticize the experiments. Of course, some scientific articles can be very difficult to interpret. It may be helpful to have someone with a scientific or medical background to assist you in reading a few so you can become familiar with the format of scientific writing. It is filled with jargon and is written for other researchers. Pay close attention to euphemisms like "sacrifice" instead of kill, "negative stimulus" for electric shock (or worse), or "vocalize" for scream.
Corporate Research on the Internet
Our schools are becoming corporations. At some point, your group will want to tackle some form of corporate involvement with the University (funding military research, funding animal testing, sponsoring a college, funding an endowed chair or professorship).
To attack these corporations, we really need to understand what they do, and how they work.
First, find out if the company is publicly traded. Public companies (whose stocks are bought and sold by the public on stock exchanges) must divulge a lot more information than private companies.
A good place to start is Hoover's Online: http://www.hoovers.com. The site has profiles of 14,000 companies, including the names of top officers and contact information.
Find the company's website (either through Hoover's or through http://www.companiesonline.com or http:// www.google.com). Once you reach the website, you may find a treasure trove of information or perhaps only a logo and phone number. Bigger companies sometimes put their entire annual report online.
The main SEC documents are the 10-K (a detailed annual report), the 10-Q (quarterly reports), 8-K (reports on special actions like mergers) and the S-1 or S-2 (a detailed report when a company goes public for the first time). Also look at the proxy report which shows individuals or institutions that own 5 percent or more of the company, the names of board members, and the pay of top officers. A system called EDGAR archives all SEC documents and is available for free at http://www.sec.gov/edaux/searches.htm
You'll want to find out what has been written about a company, especially in the business press.
- First, check out Lexis Nexis and Dow Jones Interactive, which are available on UT computers (go to the Library homepage, click on Newspapers and Magazines, and click which you prefer).
- Transium, http://databex.transium.com, indexes articles on companies according to certain categories (corporate strategy, marketing, labor relations) and gives abstracts and citations.
- Northern Light covers is a search engine that covers the free web and proprietary content. You can search both types at no cost. http://www.northernlight.com
More and more state information is coming online as well. See http://www.followthemoney.org
The EPA website has a feature that allows you to search for compliance information on a company or facility from a variety of databases at once. http://www.epa.gov/enviro/html/multisystem_query_java.html
The Environmental Defense Fund has a website that allows you to view environmental date on a specific geographic area. http://www.scorecard.org
Job Safety and Health Data
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a database of inspection records, including complaints issued. http://www.osha.gov/cgi-bin/est/est1
Keeping an Eye on Business
Check out the Center for Comprehensive Corporate Research. http://www.corp-research.org/index.htm
Open Records Requests
The Open Records Law is what allows journalists and the general public to get information on state operations (like UT).
The hardest part about open records requests is deciding what it is you are looking for. There is a lot of paperwork that goes through UT, and you don't want to waste time or money on useless information. Try to narrow down what you are looking for (names of documents, or types of documents is a good start).
Then, type up the request (an example request is attached). Or, the Student Law Press, http://www.splc.org/ltr_sample.html, has an automated generator for open records requests. You just fill in the blanks. This can be helpful the first time you file a request, but it isn't necessary.
At UT, there is an office in the tower that deals specifically with open records requests. It's on the second floor of the tower, MAI 102. The person in charge is Annela Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org, 471-8300. Hand-deliver it to the front desk and ask for a stamped copy as proof of delivery. UT has up to 10 working days to provide you with these documents, or to appeal to the Attorney General for an exemption. They will call you when the files are ready, and just go back to that office to examine them (rather than paying the copy fees).
In other cases, if you don't know where to send the request, just go to the top. Send the request to whomever you think is "in charge" and they will log the correspondence and route it to the appropriate person. (The first request we filed on campus was sent directly to the President, via registered mail).
Using the Freedom of Information Act
Whereas the Open Records Act is for state information, the FOIA is for federal information.
The FOIA is sometimes overwhelming, due to the bureaucracy and the amount of information involved. But, like the Open Records Act, it's easier than it looks.
First, get a copy of "The Freedom of Information Act: A User's Guide."
Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
PO Box 19367
There is simply too much information covered by the FOIA to address here. Go through the guide, and check out the many websites available on the FOIA. Also, a FOIA helpline service is available at 202-512-FOIA.
November 19, 2000
President Larry R. Faulkner
The University of Texas at Austin
Main Building 400 (G3400)
Post Office Box T
Austin, Texas 78713-8920
Dear President Faulkner:
Pursuant to the state open records law, Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 552.001 to 552.353, I write to request access to and a copy of:
*All correspondence between the Chacon Corporation and the Animal Resources Center at the University of Texas at Austin relating to the housing, euthanization and organ recovery of Beagles at the Animal Resources Center.
*Any contracts, memorandum of understanding, or similar written agreements between the Animal Resources Center and Chacon relating to the Beagles.
*Accounting reports which show payments made and/or outstanding invoices between Chacon and the Animal Resources Center.
If your agency does not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian's name and address.
In the interest of expediency, and to minimize the research and/or duplication burden on your staff, I would be pleased to personally examine relevant records. Since time is a factor, please communicate with me by telephone rather than by mail. My telephone number is: 512-GO-VEGAN.
I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $X. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me.
As provided by the open records law, I will expect your response within ten (10) days. If you believe this information is not public, I ask that you immediately notify me and then seek a formal decision from the Texas Attorney General not later than ten (10) calendar days from your receipt of this request, as required by the open records law. Please provide all available portions of otherwise exempt material.
Thank you for your assistance.
Student Liberation Front
Universities have a lot of money. Get hold of it. Make a commitment to get some kind of money from your school every semester: bring a guest lecturer, hold a conference, SOMETHING. Don't let that funding go to some fratboys. Use it to fight with.
- Each year the Student Government allocates a limited amount of money to student groups for various special projects. Students are encouraged to stop by the Student Government office (4th floor of the SSB) at the beginning of the semester or call 471-3166 for more information.
Much of the work you will do as an activist requires no more (and no less) than compassion and motivation. On the other hand, making fliers, setting up tables, and forming groups (especially here on campus where you have to pay fees for EVERYTHING!) also requires money to cover costs. Here are a few ideas of how your group can raise some money and get the word out about your cause at the same time.
Selling Products and Services
If you have some money to invest, you can purchase T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and books to sell at your table and at meetings. If you don't have the money to do this right off the bat, you can wait till you have enough to invest in these later on. Always have merchandise to sell at speaking events, film series and other public outreach.
If you don't want to buy t-shirts and patches with messages already on them, you can make your own! Silk screening is a fun and less expensive way to get your own message out there.
Materials you will need:
- Speedball photo emulsion
- Speedball Sensitizer
- Silk (you can get this at most art supply stores…some sell it in bulk)
- A silk screening frame (wooden frame with a groove on the underside to hold the screen in place).
- Plastic clothes line (to hold the screen in the groove of the frame)
- A piece of clear glass just large enough to fit inside the frame
- Transparencies (more info. below)
- Speedball water-based textile silk-screening ink in the basic colors: white, black, red, green, etc.
- A squeegee
- A hair dryer
- A dark towel
- Piece of black cardboard
- Blank T-shirts (try looking at thrift stores to avoid buying sweatshop shirts…or find them for free at your friendly, neighborhood Wal-Mart)
- Fabric for patches (it's pretty cheap if you get it from the sale rack at Hancock Fabrics on Lamar and Ben White)
You can buy all this stuff separately or get a starter kit at Miller Blueprint in Austin. Yes, this stuff is pretty expensive, but it will last for many, many silk-screening sessions!
How to silk screen:
- The image you want to screen must first be put onto a clear transparency. You can either get transparencies and print on them from your computer, or go to Kinkos and do it with a copy machine.
- Prepare the frame and the silk. Cut a piece of silk slightly larger than the frame and apply it to the frame. You will probably need two people for this task since it has to be very smooth and taught. You can use a spoon to secure the clothesline and screen in the groove of the frame.
- Mix 4 parts photo emulsion to 1 part sensitizer in a small bowl (1tbs:1/4 tbs). Apply the mixture to the screen and spread evenly on both sides of the screen with an old credit card or driver's license. Allow the screen to dry completely. You can even dry it with a hair dryer. Do this in a dark room with as little light as possible (bathrooms without windows are generally good places to do this).
- Place the transparency image on the screen (inside the frame) face up. Do this while in the dark room. Place the clear piece of glass on top to hold the image in place.
- Cover the screen with a dark towel to protect it from the light. Place the black cardboard underneath the screen (so it absorbs the heat, and lets the emulsion harden).
- Take the screen outside and expose it to direct sunlight for 30-45 seconds. Be careful not to over or under expose the image.
- Place the towel back over the screen and go back to your dark bathroom.
- Rinse the screen in the bathtub to remove the emulsion. You should be able to see your burned image on the screen.
- Dry the screen completely with a hair dryer.
- Now you are ready to put your image on shirts/patches!
- Lay down some old newspapers on your hard, flat work surface so the ink doesn't make a mess.
- Place your fabric/t-shirt on the work surface.
- You may want to tape down the corners of the fabric so it doesn't slide. It's also a good idea to put a piece of cardboard inside the t-shirts so the ink doesn't bleed through to the back.
- Place the screen on top of the fabric/shirt and center the image. Spoon a line of ink onto the screen just above the image. With the squeegee, smooth the ink across the image to push it through to the cloth underneath. Run the squeegee across the image a few times to ensure that you covered all of it. You should push firmly, but don't get carried away…the ink could smear if you press too hard.
- Carefully lift screen off the fabric. Pull straight up or else the ink will smear.
- Let the newly screened fabric air dry for about a minute then "heat set" it using a hot iron. If you don't heat set it, it will fade when you get it wet.
Vegan bake sales are a good way to get a little extra cash for your group. If you have a big tabling event on campus, have a few members make some cookies, brownies, breads, etc. to bring to the table. Since you are not supposed to sell items at your table, don't call it a bake sale. Just say you have free food and most people will take some and leave a small donation in your donation jar. You do have to have permission to serve food (fill out a form in the SSB).
Donations are always good if they come in the large variety, but it is very rare that individuals will donate more than a few dollars. However, there are plenty of other types of donations you can seek. Some businesses around town will gladly donate goods and/or services if they know it's for a good cause. Ask print shops and art supply stores to give you discounts. You can also ask local business to donate used office equipment. Ask grocery stores, bakeries, or restaurants to donate the food they have left at the end of the day. Donations like this are especially helpful when you want to have food events on campus.
This is a good, easy money-maker, since plenty of people always need to get rid of stuff that other people feel they need to buy. (You'll make more money if your goods are clean and well displayed.) Tag clothing with size labels and make sure prices are clearly marked. You can advertise for garage sales pretty easily in the Texan and the Statesman.
When you graduate, make sure your organization can go on without you. Pass on information about the organization, its membership, and its activities on to your successors.
Pass on a notebook (such as this one!) that includes correspondence, minutes of meetings, notes on events, programming ideas, a copy of your budget (if you have one), samples of publicity, and any other helpful information. Always leave a list of your contacts (local business, national organizations, etc.) so your successors can keep up a rapport and continue to benefit from their services. You should even introduce your successors to your local contacts and let all your contacts know you are graduating. Leave behind information so others can access your mailing list, website (so they can update or change it), your mail box, and bank account. Here at UT, when you change group representation, you have to fill out forms with the new members' names on them (available at CCI in SSB 4th floor) so your successors can have access to all your "business" on campus.
Make recommendations - write down successes, problems, and what you would do differently.
So you're done with school, but you can still have an influence as an alumnus. Expect to receive solicitations from your alma mater's alumni office - alumni contributions are big business. Write to the university's alumni officials and let them know that you won't be giving money to the school as long as they continue to support irresponsible causes (such as animal experimentation or corporate sponsorship). You can get this point across every time you're contacted for contributions.
Most schools send out alumni magazines updating you on what's happening on campus. Watch for articles that strike a chord, and send a letter to the editor if you see any.
Last but not least, keep up with what's going on with your old group. You never know when they could use your help!
- DON'T BURN OUT. If you have a hard campaign, mix it up with "easy" events: free food on campus, tabling, speakers.
- Use mainstream "volunteer" events to promote your issue (like a campus open house). Not many activist groups do this, and it sucks. You never know who you may draw into the movement.
- Keep people motivated and involved. Assign tasks, no matter how small, to get people involved. But expect to do the bulk of the work yourself.
- Think about outreach opportunities: freshman orientation, coalition building, and joint campaigns.
- Show that you tried to work within the system. When that doesn't work, be prepared to escalate.
- Pester the hell out of people. Operating as a collective doesn't mean you can't be a leader.
- ALWAYS THINK ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE. Fighting to end a UT military contract or get better pay for staff is part of a larger picture: taking control of our education.
"A lot of people showed up for our first meeting, but I'm having a hard time keeping them involved."
Be sure to welcome new members enthusiastically and make them feel appreciated and part of the group. Activism tends to become cliquish, which is understandable, since we're used to having to be on the defensive with "new" people. Let people share in decision making; people will work harder if they can help decide what to do. Also, choose realistic goals. People get discouraged if they don't see results. Achieving a goal doesn't have to mean ending the sanctions on Iraq. It could mean holding a good demo, getting media coverage, making a great leaflet, holding a teach-in, writing a guest column. Find a balance between hard work and fun. Get to know activists outside of meetings and demos. Build relationships with people: you need friends to maintain any semblance of sanity in Texas, and also to win campaigns.
"How can I handle hostile administrators?"
Don't give them ammunition. Don't lose your cool. If you think they are "waiting it out," be sure there are people to take over when you graduate.
Change takes time. Prior activists may have had a few nasty clashes with administrators and left a bad taste in their mouth. Or, they may just be jerks. Be courteous even if you think it is obnoxious or "sell out." Send thank you notes after meetings. Keep good contacts with the administrators that are on your side. Build rapport with faculty and staff. If everyone is on your side EXCEPT the Tower, then the Tower has to crumble to your demands.
"Does it really matter how I dress when tabling or doing media?"
Unfortunately, yes. Think of it this way: People already have barriers to understanding what you are saying. The dominant culture, media, etc. probably isn't on your "side." You have to break down barriers to reach people, and for them to take you seriously. Dress adds another barrier. A collared shirt from a thrift store can go a long way. Most importantly, it DOESN'T MEAN YOU ARE SELLING OUT. Wearing a nice shirt for a few hours doesn't mean you are abandoning your identity. Social movements peak when the "mainstream" begins to identify and listen.
Think of your audience. If you are tabling on a campus or at a punk show, don't worry about your dress.
"I feel like I'm doing all the work. What's the best way to get people to help?"
Ask them! Many people want to help, but won't volunteer. Begin by giving people small tasks with a clear beginning and end (ex: updating the local media list, making a flier). Start with something simple, to create a sense of ownership and empowerment.
"There's no group that works on what I believe. What can I do?"
Start a group.
If you are against that, you can still make an impact as one person. Stickering, wheat pasting, fliering: these things reach people. You never know who will notice it and start thinking.
"Are campus regulations different than normal free speech laws?"
Yes. Universities are not democracies.
Check out The Rights of Students and The Right to Protest, both published by the ACLU.
To order: contact ACLU Publications, PO BOX 186, Wye Mills, MD 21679.
Create a list of national, local, and University contacts for your group.