NSJP/UH SJP Welcome
Friday, October 27, 2017
Sarah Zeidat: Hi everyone, my name is Sara. Um, like white girl Sarah, but ethnic. (laughing) If you call me Sarah, there’s a very strong chance I will correct you, so please call me Sarah.
Male: All right.
Sarah Zeidat: I’d like to welcome you to the very first NSJP Conference in the south at the University of Houston. Woot. Woot.
Um, so as of now Houston is the most diverse city in the United States of America. However, even though it is very diverse, it’s also very segregated. So, Houston is, um, a hotpot to a lot of social and political issues, um, in the United States. Um, Houston does host the largest number of refugees in the United States. It also hosts 10% of all DACA recipients. We are also home to one if the largest policy named populations in the United States. Woo.
This is why I believe it’s very important that this conference is happening in the south, especially in Houston, Texas. So, two years ago Ayesha Khan, and Malcolm, who’s not here right now, came to the University of Houston SJP chapter, and they asked us, you know, “What can National do for you?” And, you know, at that point our chapter was very, very small. Um, we were literally three board members. Um, we didn’t really have a vision for BDS. We didn’t know how we could do work with Houston at large. And so we were very lost. You know, we thought that we could just throw together a bunch of random events, and get, get, get it going.
So, Ayesha Khan, and Malcolm, um, really guided us, and to kind of, um, point us in the right direction. So, um, because of that, um, with time we were able to put together a BDS resolution, and um, we were also able to, um, put ta- I don’t, We were- they were also able to start a coalition on campus. We don’t have any coalition on campus, um, and so we, we were able to start that conversation with other student organizations such as the Organization, um, um etc.
So, we’re the ones who started that coalition, and that coalition came to life, um, I think about a year ago, and it’s called the Cougar Voice Coalition. And that coalition is also gonna support us when we come, come- when we bring out the BDS resolution to the Student Government.
Um, and so a year after, and then Ayesha and Malcolm, I attended my very first NSJP, which was last year at George Mason University. Um, I remember leaving being very, very inspired, and I gained a lot of schools and connection from people all over the country. Um, and because of that I was able to come back and stronger.
Um, and so that’s why I’m very happy here today to stand with you to host this conference. Um, I never really thought about when I attended last year’s conference, never in a million years that one year later I would be hosting, um, the 2017 NSJP Conference. Um, so to be quite honest, if anyone were to ever ask me, um, if there could be an NSJP Conference in the south, I would, I would think it would happen in Austin, through PSC, who’s very- who are very, very active, and who are here today in support of us. So, um, yeah.
Um, and at this point I’d like to call up all UH Conference organizers. So Sofatush , [Farad Dublati, whoever helped organize, I want everyone to come up on stage, so everyone can see, kind of, what UH NSJP is made of now.
Ayat: Who else
Male: All right, [inaudible] right here. Um, [inaudible] right here, and [inaudible]
Sarah Zeidat: So, there’s the- missing people here. There’s still Aziz, Dina, a couple of other people, but um, literally a year ago our board was like three people. Um, actually, our old president is going to be [inaudible] Ruba. Raise your hand Ruba.
So, this is the UH NSJP. Um, we started small, but with a really big vision we were able to push through and become big, and we’re able to host a conference. Um, and so with that being said, I’d like to pass the mic over to Ayesha Khan from National SJP.
Ayesha Khan: Hi everyone. I’m really loud, so [inaudible] right here. Um, so I’d like to welcome you all on behalf of National SJP. So, my name’s Ayesha Khan. Um, I’m a PhD student here at the medical center, but I started off my SJP work at SJP UCLA. So, started off in the west, then came to the south.
So, our theme this year, which is, um, [inaudible] reimagined world, is mending walls, [inaudible] The idea was that this year we wanted to focus on issues in the south. Um, issues that are [inaudible] which is basically an ongoing legacy of enslavement, mass incarceration, disenfranchisement in the black and Latino communities. Um, oppression of undocumented and native communities. And I could obviously go on, but the point is that we can always find [inaudible] parallel struggles between the struggle for liberation in Palestine, and for communities of color in the south.
Um, so as National SJP we thought it was really, really important to have a conference in the south. And it took seven years to get here, but we’re here, and I’m really glad that it’s in Houston. Um, so we’re here together in Houston, and the point is for us to build resources, share skills, grow and advance our movement, and also work to [inaudible] advance and mobilize, uh, for the [inaudible] for our allies.
So, National SJP, despite all [inaudible] hurdles in the past couple of years, um, has accomplished a lot. I didn’t know if we would make it to this conference to be honest, but even, even through all of our hurdles, and through Harvey, we’ve actually made it here, which is pretty impressive.
Um, so we do a lot of work and I kind of wanted to go through some of the cool things that we’ve accomplished, we’ve accomplished over the past couple of years. Um, so we started our first NSJP newsletter, um, and it was the first … Oh wow, the formatting’s wrong, but it was first released in January, um, 23, 2017. Uh, which is supposed to be a way for students and campus organizers to share recollections of powerful initiatives on their campus, and any reflections from within the movement.
Uh, we were inspired originally by the Student Anti-Apartheid Newsletter, which actually started in 1979, um, by the Unified Student Movement in the US against South African Apartheid. And the newsletter was actually integral to why, uh, a lot of universities actually [inaudible] South Africa. So, that was kind of our inspiration.
Um, we have a lot of section that a lot of people have contributed to. This was our very first newsletter, um, and this was some of the, um, authors from the first newsletter. And, the point that I kind of want to hit home is we want people to contribute. So, if you’re interested, so please submit. And, our third issue should be coming out soon, so you’ll hear about it soon.
Um, apart from that we’ve also been able to start something really cool, which is that SJP resource library. So, essentially if NSJP trackers need any resources related to campus BDS, media, SJP 101, legal help, [inaudible] campus education, and event planning, they’re basically able to apply, and we have a huge database of resources that we’ve compiled over the years, and they can get access to all of that. It’s not public, for obvious reasons, so they need to request it, and we’ll give them their resources afterwards. So, that’s something we came up with this year as well. And you all probably received this when you register. We came up with a [inaudible] handbook. Um, and a lot of this information will be shared during our workshops as well.
And last but not least, two years of organizing the Right to Education Tour, which is bringing students from Birzeit University in Palestine to the United States. Now, of course, um, beyond, beyond what we’ve already done, we know that people have a vision, a greater vision for the national movement. We do want NSJP to be bigger and greater than what it is now. Which means that we want to be able to organize national campaigns. We want to organize national days of action and protest, because that is the next step after an investment. Um, and I know people have a vision to continue [inaudible] and things like that, but we can’t do it alone.
Um, and we need everybody to feel like they’re accountable for NSJP. So, National SJP is supposed to be every single person in this room that collectively makes NSJP. So, for a second I want to start off by having you look at how many people make NSJP right now. So, can everybody who’s on steering committee for National SJP please come up.
Female: There also a couple people outside, who may [crosstalk]
Ayesha Khan: No, but, but you’ll see the point I’m trying to-
Ayesha Khan: Okay. [crosstalk] So, there’s about five people here up on stage, and there’s two people out in the ticketing booth. So that’s seven people. That’s how many people are on National SJP steering. That, plus the University of Houston put on this conference this year.
The point I’m trying to hit home is two years ago, even last year, we had about 40 people that made steering. So, the responsibility cannot lie on these people to pull the movement through. If you want to see another conference, you need to join NSJP. If you want to see change, you need to be part of the change. We want any and every single person who are part of their local SJP chapter to feel like they can contribute to the national movement, and this is how, joining NSJP. And we do a lot more than organizing conference, as we’ve told you. And we want to do a lot more than we’re capable of, but we can’t do it with seven people. So, apply to join NSJP. Our deadline is December 15. It’s really easy. It’s really fast, and you don’t need to come in knowing everything.
We will give you resources. We will give you the knowledge and the skills, and the resources you need to organize as a National SJP member. So please join, because NSJP really needs to, really needs to grow beyond what it is now, but it can only do that with help. And, that’s it. Thank you.
Sarah Zeidat: So, at this point-
Sarah Zeidat: So, at this point we’d like to give a sh- I’d like to give a shout out ….