VIDA brings together student activists

Student activists gathered for a conference on social justice and student empowerment in the Riverside room of the Student Center on Friday, March 16.
The Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (VIDA) hosted the Student Voices United for Change conference for dozens of students on De Anza College’s campus.
VIDA is a civic engagement office on campus which aims to enable students to make a difference in their community for themselves and for others.
Cynthia Kaufman, Director of VIDA says there is a powerful group of students who want to be activists in their communities.
“The idea of the conference really is to increase the sense of community and also the skills within that community,” said Kaufman.
The conference featured guest speakers performing spoken word about activism and social justice and interns from the VIDA office facilitating a group activity about oppression.
Another theme of the conference, according to Kaufman was mental health and self care.
“Sometimes when students get into activism and they start doing things, they forget about their school work, they forget about their sleep, and that sort of thing,” said Kaufman, “so, it’s to kind of create a really healthy culture of caring about each other, caring about yourself, and doing the work in kind of the most positive ways possible.”
One of the speakers, VIDA intern and De Anza student is Mako Mori, 22, political science major, said the conference was also a way to ask students what is missing on campus in civic engagement.
“I’m speaking on power and privilege, and that’s something very personal to me,” said Mori, “that’s something that I feel I’ve grown a lot from ever since my time at De Anza.”
The conference welcomed seasoned student activists as well as those who are new to it and focused on introducing terms and concepts to the group.
“I’m really passionate about social justice and equal rights for everyone and I want to be involved in trying to help everyone have the same voice,” said Sepand Rouz, 18, economics major.