Organizing the Immigration Day of Action
[Archived from February 2017]
The purpose of this nationwide event is to show our representatives that we as students of the United States are organized and demand our Congressional representatives to stand up against President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration. As such, it is with great emphasis that we stress the need to speak with one voice on February 17th. This entails ensuring that our message is carefully communicated throughout the various participating campuses. The following Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should then serve as a guide for student activists.
While it is important to follow through with these general guidelines, we must also recognize that each campus has its own unique challenges, and so these guidelines must be applied within the context of each individual university.
Campus Implementation Strategy
What is a Day of Action?
A Day of Action (DoA) is an event on campus that will consist of a day of letter-writing, postcard-writing and phone banking to protest President Trump's executive orders. While the scope of this day should be limited to tackle issues related to immigration, a lot may change in the following weeks. Therefore, each campus has the ability to tailor the types of demands students will make to their representatives.
You might wonder how much of an effect phone calls, letters, and postcards might have - at the end of every week, Congressional staff compile total numbers of all correspondence received, and then present those tallies to the Member of Congress . Certain pieces of correspondence are also picked out and presented to the Member. If a large enough volume of correspondence is received, it can really help move the needle on contested issues. Just this past week, a number of Republican senators decided to vote against their party on the confirmation of Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education because of the number of letters and phone calls their offices had received opposing her nomination.
How to Carry Out A Day of Action?
Overall, Implementing a Day of Action on your respective campuses should not represent a significant logistical challenge. However, we do recognize there are some things that need to be made clear in order to proceed forward. The following steps are recommended:
- Create an executive team to carry out the logistical components of the Day of Action:
- This step is recommended for those campuses that do not have an organization that can actively organize the event. Regardless, every school should have someone in charge of putting the event together, as well as a support team. Finally, there should be an established point of contact with the organizers of the national event as to ensure constant communication.
- Reserve a large enough space on campus in order to host the event:
- The room should have tables, chairs, and outlets in order to be able to write letters and call representatives. The size of the room should be tailored to the expected demand of students.
- Create a Facebook event and share it among students.
- For reference, here is Princeton University’s Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1719768974910543/
- Secure sources of funding:
- Funding should cover the costs of stamps and mailing letters/postcards.
- Check the cost of acquiring the aforementioned materials, and index your financial projections to the amount of people you expect attending the event.
- It would be good if the postcards are from your own universities, as to show it’s college students demanding they be heard.
- The reality is that the majority of the efforts should be concentrated on the phone calls, so do not stress about this point as much.
- You might also want to secure funding for food as an incentive for people to show up.
- Here’s the Princeton budget for our DoA, as an example:
- 1500 Postcards ($100)
- 300 Pens
- 750 sheets of blank paper (if people choose to write letters - we can steal these from residential college printers)
- 500 - 750 Envelopes (these come in packs of 500) ($12.29)
- 1500 postage stamps ($750)
- Total: $862.29
- This means going through all media possible to garner attention from your local community and press - earned media is key to extending the event’s reach
- Spam Facebook, email listservs, Twitter, pretty everything you can do to get people’s attention
- Publicize through individual groups and clubs on your campus - they can mobilize their memberships as well!
- You are all encouraged to publish articles in your schools’ newspapers, online publications like The Tab, Buzzfeed, etc.
[Optional, but highly encouraged]
Reach out to your friends in other universities that might be interested in this type of event! If you have any friends that could implement this in their own universities - that would be great!
Things to have in mind
For the actual Day of Action, it is important to have a volunteer staff who can help people write letters and make the phone calls. It is best to find people who have experience with phone banking or letter-writing. Finally, this volunteer staff should also be able to steer people to the proper tables as well as take note of who is present at the event. Personal engagement is key - lighten the mood - this is an incredibly serious endeavor, but you also want to draw in people who might not normally be engaged in the political process.
There are also some campus-specific features that can be added to the event. For example, we encourage you to have a designated corner for students to take pictures with a sign so they may put them as their profile pictures. Another option is to hold some sort of conversation or panel during the event to encourage others to come out. One partner university is even holding a potluck at the same time as their Day of Action. It is here where each university has the freedom and capacity to tailor their event to their liking.