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Winners Announced for 2008 Campus Progress Awards in Student Activism, Advocacy, and Journalism

Winners Announced for 2008 Campus Progress Awards in Student Activism, Advocacy, and Journalism

For Immediate Release
July 7, 2008

Contact
John Neurohr, 202.481.8182
jneurohr@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. – Campus Progress has announced the winners of its 2008 Campus Progress Awards for student activism, advocacy, and journalism. Throughout the year, across the country, progressive students are speaking out on issues like the war in Iraq, climate change and the increasing burden of student debt. Campus Progress presents these awards to honor the most innovative and effective student activism, journalism, and event organizing on the issues that matter to young people.

The winners will be honored at the fourth annual Campus Progress National Conference on Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“We’re thrilled to be able to honor the work of amazing young progressives doing hard-hitting journalism, activism, and events,” said Tanya Paperny, one of the conference coordinators for Campus Progress. “The people gathered at the Campus Progress national conference this week will be able to meet and congratulate some of the best campus leaders in America.”

The awards honor students who organize at their schools on behalf of Campus Progress; who run publications, issue campaigns, and events supported by Campus Progress; and who write for the web magazine CampusProgress.org. This year’s winners are:

Student Representatives of the Year
Adrian Shanker, Muhlenberg College
Mitra Jalali, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Chapter of the Year
Wichita State University

Best Student Organizing of an Event
Chrissy Elles, Climate Change Alternative Spring Break, UCSB
Vanessa Rozier and Nick Owen, Howard University, “Black is Beautiful”

Action Campaign of the Year
Students for Environmental and Social Justice, University of Montana

Publication of the Year
Cipher, Colorado College

Breakthrough Publication of the Year
Claremont Port Side, Claremont McKenna College

CampusProgress.org Contributor of the Year
Justin Elliott

Campus Progress M.V.P.
Hooman Hedayati, University of Texas, Austin

Here are the citations to be read for the Campus Progress Award winners at the July 8, 2008, 4th Annual Campus Progress National Conference:

Student Representatives of the Year

Adrian Shanker

Adrian Shanker is a superactivist. He speaks on panels, organizes events, attends conferences, works with many different organizations, is constantly reading up on different issues, and goes to school full-time. In conjunction with our events team, Adrian has organized several very successful events on his Pennsylvania campus. One of the best was an anti-war panel called Exit Strategies: 5 Years of War. Despite the fact that the event was sandwiched between two other major events—one that featured Bill Clinton—Adrian still managed to get 300 people to the event and got local news to cover it. Adrian is extremely passionate, and has dedicated much of his activist career to issues like LGBT rights and divestment from Sudan. I’m proud to present the Representative of the Year award to Adrian.

Mitra Jalali

Mitra organized an Iraq Film Project screening on her campus in the Spring of 2007, and has only gotten more and more engaged since then. She has a ton of energy and motivation for jumpstarting grassroots organizing on her campus. Mitra stepped up to become an advisory board member for the 2007-2008 school year, and since then, always participates actively by offering her input and insights to the national staff. She was crucial in giving tips to guide the structuring of our chapter network, and then founded a chapter of her own at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Through weekly meetings, she worked to revive the progressive spirit at Madison, unite the disparate community of activists, and take a stand on national issues. She has passed on the leadership since she’s a graduated senior and has worked with the newest leader of the chapter to organize an antiwar rally on the steps of the state capitol building, fully loaded with hilarious costumes and statistics about the cost of the ongoing war in Iraq. The group got tons of press and did an amazing job. We’re thrilled that she has been accepted to Teach for America in New Orleans, though we’re sad she can’t be with us today.

Chapter of the Year

Wichita State University

The students at Wichita State University have had an active chapter all school year. Two members of the chapter attended the February Iraq Action Camp in DC and went on to organize around the 5th anniversary of the war, raising awareness on their campus. They used innovation and creativity to shed light on the plight of tomato pickers working for Burger King. In partnership with other progressive organizations, the Wichita students held a “Tomato challenge,” where participants competed by picking tomatoes with weighted buckets. Because of events like the one at Wichita State, Burger King eventually signed an agreement to pay workers more and improve labor conditions. The Wichita Campus Progress chapter serves as a hub for progressive organizing on its campus by hosting numerous events and film screenings throughout the year. I’m proud to present the Chapter of the Year award to Wichita State.

Best Student Organizing of an Event

Chrissy Elles – Climate Change Alternative Spring Break

While most students spent finals week studying and spring break partying, there was only one thing on Chrissy’s mind: How to inspire others to join her in the fight against climate change. With her passion, enthusiasm and overall positive energy, she organized an exciting and inspirational Alternative Spring Break in beautiful Santa Barbara. Students came from throughout California as interested individuals, and left as a band of activists, anxious to get stuff done. Jonathan from UCSD left the camp and became a leader in establishing a Sustainability Resource Center on his campus, and three women from Mills College returned to campus committed to build a progressive climate movement. Chrissy’s passion for progressivism is contagious, be careful if you are sitting next to her. Chrissy is a rising senior at UCSB, a Campus Progress Advisory Board member, and has hosted an Iraq film screening and several events on her campus prior to the spring break.

Howard University Students Vanessa Rozier and Nick Owen – “My Black is Beautiful”

Howard students Vanessa Rozier and Nick Owen are event planning all-stars. Their events are not only creative, informative, and entertaining, they are also packed with hundreds of students every time. Nick and Vanessa’s “My Black is Beautiful” event was thought-provoking and extremely well-executed. The event featured panelists from different professions and backgrounds discussing color prejudices and biases within the African American community. Through a video that addressed beauty standards in the African American community, a panel discussion, and a Q & A session, the audience had the opportunity to come up with new definitions of black beauty. Over 300 people showed up and nearly everyone stuck around after the event to meet the panelists and continue the discussion. Nick and Vanessa demonstrated the powerful role events can play in building a progressive movement. I’m proud to present Nick and Vanessa with the award for Best Organizing of an Event.

Action Campaign of the Year

Students for Economic and Social Justice

The Students for Economic and Social Justice organization at the University of Montana has received a Campus Progress Action Grant for the past two years to pursue anti-sweatshop policies on its campus. Their fun and innovative tactics—like holding sweat-free fashion shows and collecting petition signatures wearing only cardboard—have paid off. The University of Montana has agreed to join the Workers Rights Consortium, an independent organization that monitors labor conditions in factories around the world.

SESJ is still working to advance labor rights on its campus. The organization is full of smart and committed members–so committed that when recently faced with an impasse in negotiations with their administration, they staged a sit-in at the president’s office where several members of the group were arrested. Their message is clear: nothing is going to stop SESJ until the University of Montana is sweat-free! I’m proud to present the Action Campaign of the Year award to Students for Economic and Social Justice.

Publication of the Year

Cipher, Colorado College

Cipher magazine is a model publication for young journalists. The unique block structure at Colorado College helps writers explore an article in-depth for each of Cipher’s eight annual issues. Cipher’s writers have written dispatches from places as far away as Argentina, Japan, Slovenia, and India. Cipher also critically examines issues impacting the local Colorado Springs community. Each issue of Cipher focuses on a theme –from queer issues to transportation to language – illustrating the diversity of what a single concept can mean to many different writers. Cipher continues to bring to the forefront voices and stories that would otherwise go unnoticed. I am honored to present the Publication of the Year award to Cipher.

Breakthrough Publication of the Year

Claremont Port Side, Claremont McKenna College

The Claremont Port Side has changed drastically over the past year. The magazine has undergone a complete redesign–from an expanded and professional-looking website, including a blog, to its eye-catching print edition. The writing too has grown and features argumentative pieces with well-written analysis and reporting on local, national, and international issues. Its mission statement proclaims that it aims to provide “contextualized, intelligent reports to advance debate among students and citizens,” and it has done just that with its monthly publication. We’re very proud to present the Breakthrough Publication of the Year award to the Claremont Port Side.

CampusProgress.org Contributor of the Year

Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott has established himself as one of Campus Progress’ most consistently excellent contributors. In covering everything from gonzo journalism to higher education to the Israel lobby, and writing a comprehensive story on the racial make up of college newspapers, he has proved himself to be an insightful, quick-witted journalist with a firm grasp on the issues that matter to young progressives. A graduate of Brown University, Justin moved to San Francisco to work for Mother Jones magazine, where he now serves as an online senior fellow. Justin’s energy, initiative, and solid writing have helped shape Campus Progress into the online magazine that it is today.

Campus Progress MVP

Hooman Hedayati

Hooman Hedayati is a senior at the University of Texas in Austin and a member of the Campus Progress Student Advisory Board, but, more importantly, he is an activist rock star. Hooman has been organizing against the death penalty since he was in high school, and helped found a statewide student organization – Texas Students Against the Death Penalty. He has used new media and video in smart and innovative ways, and has organized countless events and activities to educate the public about the death penalty and put pressure on decision-makers to ban it.

Hooman helped organize Alternative Spring Break against the Death Penalty in Austin for several years in a row. This event has been a great success – students from around the country have come to Austin to learn about the issue, get trained on skills and strategies to stop capital punishment, and organize vigils, marches, and press rallies to draw attention to the issue. The spring break has been featured on MTV, The Nation, Texas Public Radio, the Daily Texan, Houston Press, and countless other publications.

Hooman has inspired us with his passion, creativity, and depth of knowledge of student organizing. I am honored to present Hooman with the Campus Progress MVP award.

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