Stout Students UNITE (SSU) is an organization that strives to help all people and stop injustices. The students in the organization meet each week to discuss different social topics and to become more educated on those topics. “SSU is built upon Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy in nonviolence, which he used in the Civil Rights Movement, and one of the key things he believed in is building the beloved community,” said SSU Johanna Peterson. SSU also collaborates on many projects and events with other on-campus organizations. “In the past we have teamed with Stout’s Black Student Union, Gender & Sexuality Alliance, as well as Her Campus to build solidarity and community,” said Peterson.
Stout Students UNITE also travels to different areas to volunteer for different organizations and causes. Their most recent trip was to Flint, Michigan — known for the unfortunate water crisis that started in 2014. The 10 students in attendance volunteered at a local soup kitchen and worked a table at a farmer’s market. The money from the table went to the Ennis Center for Children. “The Ennis Center serves 1,400 children in foster and adoption care in Flint, Michigan every year,” said Peterson.
The trip to Flint took almost a year to plan. SSU’s executive board from last school year thought that taking the trip would be beneficial to the students and the Flint community. This year’s executive board chose to act on the idea and reached out to students at the University of Michigan who volunteer in Flint the second Saturday of every month. “Currently, we have donated almost $300 to [the Ennis Center for Children],” said Peterson.
Stout Students UNITE was also awarded the Stout’s Diversity Student Organization for 2017. This award recognizes student organizations that promote diversity and inclusion. “We are committed to using [the award] to help all students on campus have the best experience during their time at Stout,” said Peterson.
Peterson said that her hopes for the organization are to expand its collaborations and membership further. She wants to gain more involvement from those who may not consider themselves to be advocates for social justice. “Social justice and nonviolence isn’t just for hippies or radicals, it’s in the love we have for our parents and for our fellow human beings. Everyone can find a way to connect, even if you aren’t protesting or radically making social change,” said Peterson.
If you want to get involved with Stout Students UNITE, attend one of their meetings each Thursday at 6 p.m. in Memorial Student Center Cedar Maple, or visit either their OrgSync or Facebook page.