The UC Davis branch of the student anti-genocide coalition, STAND, plans to shift its focus from Darfur to a multi-national emphasis in spring quarter.
Following the lead of the national coalition, the group will begin to deal with ethnic conflicts in Congo, Burma and Sudan. STAND is the student sector of the nonprofit organization Genocide Intervention Network.
“Our chapter recognizes that genocide exists in other areas, it needs to be combated as a whole,” said Eva Lerner, senior psychology major and advocacy coordinator of the group.
Additionally, the group recently changed its name from STAND: Students Take Action Now, Darfur, to STAND – a student anti-genocide coalition.
“By limiting its name solely to Darfur, STAND was limiting the amount of awareness and the ability to advocate for intervention on behalf of other existing conflicts,” said Claire Van Zuiden, political science major and president of UC Davis STAND, about the national group.
Armed conflict in Burma between the Burmese government and several ethnic groups has existed since 1948, making it the longest ongoing war in the world at this time. In Congo, approximately 5.4 million people have died in humanitarian conflicts since 1988, according to a survey produced by the International Rescue Committee.
“Our goal for the rest of the year is to become educated and spread education to other students on campus. We also hope to lobby our state and federal representatives,” Van Zuiden said.
Next quarter the group plans to hold multiple teach-ins in which the group members will educate themselves and others on the current conflicts in Congo and Burma.
“I want to emphasize the importance of history,” Van Zuiden said. “Conflicts like genocide don’t just happen in five years because of just one incident; they are usually a long time coming. You have to do a lot of research to understand what is going on today.”
In the past, STAND has addressed genocide by inviting guest speakers, hosting regional conferences, showing documentaries on the conflict in Darfur, and holding fundraisers like STAND fast in which students are encouraged to donate the money they would have spent on a luxury item, such as a latte, to civilian protection in Darfur instead.
Most recently, on Mar. 5, STAND held the “Soundbites for Sudan,” in conjunction with PASO, the Pan African Student Organization, to raise money for Juba Teaching Hospital in Southern Sudan.
The group’s mission is to build up the infrastructure in countries where genocide occurs and to ensure that the citizens can run their own governments without foreign aid. Currently there are around 25 members attending weekly meetings, and nearly 300 who participate in and attend STAND’s quarterly events.
The UC Davis chapter was founded in 2006. Money raised at STAND events supports peacekeeping efforts in Sudan, Congo and Burma.
“We’re in the beginning stages of transition right now,” Lerner said. “We hope it will pick up more next year.”
STAND holds meetings 8 p.m. Tuesdays in 205 Olson and the group can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GABRIELLE GROW can be reached at email@example.com.