STAND

When senior Sam Reichman’s dad mentioned the Genocide Intervention Network over the summer, Reichman knew he wanted to do something. But, like many students, he was busy with activities, like cross country. After the season ended, however, he knew it was time to make a change and organize STAND, the student led division of the network. He registered as a member online, held an informational meeting, and began trying to make an impact.

“[STAND’s] goal is to create a lasting and responsive anti-genocide constituency, meaning that we are working with all these students across the nation in order to get them informed and mobilized so that when genocides occur, we can advocate to our elected officials,” Reichman said.

Junior Daniel Kusko attended the informational meeting and joined because of the group’s broad focus.

“I just felt like it was a good group because it covers all the areas of human genocide and not just a specific area,” he said.

Sponsor and Arabic teacher Anni Hasan  feels as passionate about the cause as the students. Though STAND meetings are student-led, Hasan felt sponsoring a group with an anti-genocide message was a great idea and wishes she could have been part of a similar group in her high school.

“I’m always passionate about peace and humanitarian work, so this is the type of organization that I would want to be a sponsor of,” Hasan said. “Really, I’m just extremely impressed with our student body to even think of something like this. It was on their own. I didn’t approach the students, the students approached me.”

One of the motives behind such student involvement may be the commonly used term that genocide has become. Students hear this word frequently, whether from history class or on CNN. One of the most recent genocides is the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which 800,000 citizens were killed over the span of 100 days. It was this particular genocide that put the STAND movement in motion.

STAND, which currently has 31 members,  has met twice so far, during which they came up with ideas for events and fundraisers. But Reichman said their current goal is to contact state senators in the hopes of getting them to co-sponsor senate concurrent resolution 71, which states that it is in the national interest of the United States to prevent human genocide.

“We’re a bit more focused working on advocating to elected officials, meaning that instead of doing mostly fundraisers and awareness […] we also want to get legislation through our government,” Reichman said.

Kusko said that although fundraisers are not the main focus, ideas have been circulating.

“We talked about what kind of fundraisers we could have, like bake sales or activities like calling senators and talking about congress bills to help prevent genocide,” Kusko said.

Hasan has a hopeful attitude toward the group and the awareness its raising.

“There’s a lot of different things they’ve been thinking about and going about planning, like sending out letters, petitions, making phone calls, putting out posters, a lot of that,” she said.

Keeping such a large group motivated for a cause that doesn’t specifically involve them seems like it would be a big challenge, but Reichman is confident in what he started.

“What keeps us motivated is the fact that the world still has a lot of problems, basically. As long as there are going to be human rights abuses, we are going to be actively trying to stop them,” he said. “I would encourage anyone who is concerned about human rights abuses or really just anything they see wrong with this world to talk to a STAND member or to me and join up.”