Introduction By Grace Di Cecco, Service-Learning Teacher Assistant
This spring, freshman honors students in Professor Sarah Finn’s First-Year Writing course “Science, Technology, and Human Values” have participated in Service-Learning by joining on-campus activist groups that relate to course themes of science, technology, and human values. Their service work has informed their learning in the course as we explore how writing can be used for activism and enacting change, and they have joined vibrant communities on campus by getting involved with issues they are passionate about. Below, students share the causes they have dedicated themselves to and reflect on their experiences so far. Unfortunately, this is the last post that kicks off a series of six about First-Year students serving Northeastern through Activism. Feel free to read the other five posts if you missed any!
Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID)
By Service-Learning Students Catalina Cardelle, Briana Pereira, Jeremy Seloff, Aeverie Polintan
Pictured above: Catalina Cardelle, Briana Pereira, Jeremy Seloff, Aeverie Polintan
Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID) is a, “coalition of student groups that works to minimize systemic discrimination at Northeastern University,” that, “aims to shift Northeastern’s current policies so that diversity, inclusion, and integration, are both acknowledged and embraced within the Northeastern community.” SAID started many different projects this semester such as improving UHCS, Sanctuary Campus, and gentrification. The issue that we have dedicated most of our time to this semester is gentrification.
As first year students, we were unaware of the effects we could have on the communities that surround Northeastern University. By joining Students Against Institutional Discrimination, we were educated in one of the biggest issues that Northeastern and its students contribute to: gentrification. Many people do not know what gentrification is, or when they take part in it. Approximately 5,000-6,000 undergraduate students live off campus and this changes the demographics of the neighborhoods that they occupy such as Roxbury, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill and South End. The presence of students drive up the prices and this leads to the displacement of low income families in the neighborhood. Our work centered on the referendum that was on the Student Government Assocation ballot that aims to give community land owners control over Northeastern’s expansion. As of now, Northeastern and the Boston Planning and Development Agency are not legally bound to make decisions based on the public’s opinion. Due to the Service-Learning component of First-Year Writing, we were lucky enough to take part in all of this action.
First-Year Writing has showed us how to use writing to educate others on activism and events going on in our community. Through essays and articles, we are able to reach a greater community that would otherwise not be educated on these topics. The Service-Learning aspect of this course has given us the opportunity to write on topics that we are passionate about, such as gentrification. Working with this student group has enhanced our college experience both in and out of the classroom. By joining SAID, we were able to gain an experience with outreach and educating students about such an important issue, and made connections to a group that we probably would never have thought to before. Although we joined the group as a requirement for the class, it has become much more than that.