The goal of this project is to help the granting organization, the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH), to develop a methodology for tracking and analyzing the suppression of university student activism, including through acts that violate student activists’ rights. The project will support SAIH’s advocacy and campaigning to raise awareness of the role that students play as defenders of human rights and to increase protections for them. Kapit will work with student research assistants to carry out data collection to develop an initial methodology, code book, and preliminary set of indicators that SAIH can use to produce an annual Student Rights Watch Report.
“This is a really important and really neglected area of work,” says Kapit. “Many people who become human rights defenders become involved in activism as students. If student activists aren’t protected and the space for student activism isn’t allowed to flourish, that’s likely to also suppress future activism. What I’ve found so far through the research is that there’s a big gap in attention to student activists. Groups that support protections for human rights defenders don’t specifically focus on students. And groups that focus on issues like academic freedom tend to be more focused on the work of academics, rather than on students. I’m also really excited to be working with students here at Swarthmore on this project. This project is about students, and I feel strongly that it needs to be shaped by student perspectives.”
Paris Shan ’23 is a Peace and Conflict Studies minor student at Swarthmore College. This summer, she was actively engaged with the Advocates for Human Rights in an internship. She describes her internship experience with ties to interviews, research, data analysis, and importantly the education she received at Swarthmore and in Peace & Conflict Studies.
“This summer, I was able to engage in meaningful work as an International Justice and Women’s Human Rights intern with the Advocates for Human Rights. Through my role, I worked with prosecutors to collect evidence of gender-based war crimes in Ukraine to submit to the International Criminal Court. This work is extremely important as it can be used to hold perpetrators of violence accountable and allows victims to share their stories. The most impactful moment of this internship for me was an interview with a Ukrainian father who had never had the opportunity to share his pain and struggle with anyone before. He spoke about the burden he felt to protect his family, the fear of the unknown, and his gratitude for the work of the legal professionals at the Advocates for Human Rights. His interview brought him to tears as he came to confront his experience and emotions for the first time. It is easy to feel like your work as a human rights defender is so small, but experiences like this remind me that change-making can exist at various levels.”
“With the Advocates, I also worked with a team of students to research international human rights instruments and country laws on violence against women. The work I did helped bring attention to gender-based violence around the world and aid prosecutors representing victims of violence in court. I was able to build and update the www.stopvaw.org database for other organizations and victims to use as a resource. On the website, I included research and writing reports on sex trafficking and domestic violence, weekly updates on women’s rights around the world, a data tracker on the far-right movement, and updated information on gender-based violence and resources for victims. My research showed me the importance of documentation in the foundation of legal work. As a pre-law scholar, these skills are extremely valuable to my education and future goals.”
“My work this summer helped me further develop my data analysis, professional writing, and knowledge learned through my coursework as a political science and peace & conflict studies student at Swarthmore. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to apply many of the concepts that I have learned through my education at Swarthmore into real-world experiences and projects. I am grateful to theLang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility for the Social Summer Impact Scholarshipthat allowed me to pursue this summer opportunity. My growth this summer is a huge step towards my goal of attending law school and becoming an international human rights lawyer.”
Fifty-eight years ago, a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, was destroyed by white supremacists in an act of terrrorism on a Sunday morning in September.
Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. Sproul/Intercultural Center Dome Room Swarthmore College (map)
Join us for a screening and community-wide discussion of the academy-award nominated documentary by Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls, this Saturday.
The film commemorates the church bombing that claimed the lives of four African American girls during a profound period of upheaval in the struggle for social justice. The documentary revisits the moment that catalyzed civil rights in the US and traces the lives of those who would become some of the youngest martyrs in the emerging global peace movement for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual equality: Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Rosamond Robertson.
Come watch the film and stay for discussion. #SayTheirNames
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of Quaker work at the UN, we have an opportunity to reflect on those in our community who have taught us valuable lessons about the Quaker traditions of non-violence and direct engagement with those who hold power. The wisdom and life of Quaker civil rights activist Bayard Rustin offers insights and lessons that continue to guide us today and as we look into the future.”
Prof. Smithey plans to provide transportation to the lecture, which will take place on Monday, September 12 at 7:30pm-9:00pm Eastern Time.