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The theme for the fifteenth annual Wells College Activism Symposium is “#Activism: Civic Engagement in the Age of Social Media.” This year’s Symposium—which will be held on Monday, April 4, 2016—will examine the advantages, as well as the challenges, of doing meaningful activism in a world continually informed by social media.

Activism Symposium 2016 Schedule of Events

The below schedule is tentative. Please check locations and times on the day of the event.

Registration begins at 8:30 am in the atrium of Stratton Hall. The Grind will provide coffee and tea.

All Day Events

Hispanic Political Monsters and the Activism It’s Created
Spanish 316 Students, Wells College
Stratton Hall Atrium
Theoreticians, writers, and thinkers have written at length on the topic of monsters—entities that produce horror, fear or discomfort. In SPAN 316, students have studied, discussed and analyzed fictional and real-life “monsters” and horrendous or discomforting events in the Hispanic world. A series of posters will address monstrous political behaviors and activities and how activists fight back.

Blind Water Taste Test
Marian Brown, Stephen Armstrong , Wells College Center for Sustainability and the Environment
Zabriskie Hall 104
What is your impression of campus tap water? Do you prefer bottled water? Challenge your own taste buds to a blind drinking water taste test, pitting campus tap water against bottled water and bottle spring water. Can you really taste any difference? Learn about the costs/benefits and safety of different kinds of drinking water, then make your own informed choice.

Session 1: 9:00-9:50 am

Affirmative Action
Hannah Rae Taggart, Sociology 322 – Mass Media, Society, and Law
Zabriskie Hall 105
A multi-media presentation regarding the debates surrounding Affirmative Action and what those court decisions mean to students. This presentation will include a summary of the Fisher II case, an exploration of the mismatch theory, a discussion of invisible inequality and #SegregationIs and more.

Divestment at Wells
Stephen Armstrong, Wells College
Macmillan Hall 300
If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. Divestment is the opposite of an investment – getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. We will present alternative investments that are financially sound and do not promote the destruction of our environment.

Session 2: 10:00-10:50 am

Health Care in Danger
Humanitarian Law Class, New Roots Charter School
Art Exhibit Room, Macmillan Hall
The International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign started in 2013 to educate students about humanitarian laws and the Red Cross mission. This year the campaign is focusing on the worldwide issue of health care in danger: the principles of IHL as well as their additional protocols, health care during armed conflict, protection of medical personnel, and access to sanitation and treatment.

Cultivating a Meaningful Life: A Journey through Small Farms, Homesteading and Building Relationships
Nina Daniels, Wells College
Macmillan Hall 300
Develop a basis for understanding how people may make a good life through small-scale farming. A unique independent study inspired by an internship and coursework explores sustainable agriculture and the integrations of animals with crops; permaculture principles which include care for the earth and people; and what positive psychology tells us about what makes a meaningful life.

ASL in the Media
Domenica Wilson, Wells College
Zabriskie Hall 105
Domenica will talk about the media in regards to ASL (American Sign Language) and its impact on the community. Her presentation will include a videos and a discussion regarding social media and ASL.

Session 3: 11:00-11:50 am

“Slacktivism”: How Online Activism Is Changing the Disability Rights Movement
Cara Liebowitz, Everyday Feminism
Stratton Hall 209
“Slacktivism” or “armchair activism” has been derided as lazy, and those who participate branded hipsters or fakers. However, for disabled people, online activism provides an accessible way to create social change. This presentation will discuss “slacktivism” as an ableist concept and highlight work that disability activists are doing online to create community and foster disability justice.

Water Quality Management Reform in Cayuga County
Emily Kopp and Monica Groth, Southern Cayuga High School
Zabriskie Hall 105
As part of a Syracuse Project Advanced course, SCHS students created a policy to address the problem of water pollution in Cayuga County. Our program deals with the recent phosphate pollution in Cayuga Lake, including its source, effects and possible solutions. We have compiled several graphs and contacted several local government officials to formulate and build awareness.

Cayuga Lake Water Pollution
Sam Schneider, Tanner Marshall, Southern Cayuga Central School
Zabriskie Hall 105
Students from SCCS in the SUPA Public Affairs class address the issue of drinking water quality in lakeside villages on Cayuga Lake like Aurora, Union Springs, and Cayuga. We describe where the problem comes from and discuss a policy to fix it.

Cayuga County Heroin Epidemic
Lindsey Hobart, Claire Colton, Sarah VanDeValk, Southern Cayuga HS
Macmillan Hall 313
As a part of the Syracuse University Project Advanced Public Affairs course, we created a policy designed to decrease the number of heroin overdoses in the community. Our public policy focuses on ending the Cayuga County heroin epidemic by encouraging rehabilitation instead of punishment for drug-related crimes.

Broadband Internet 4 Lyfe
Samuel Nolan, Liam Sloan, Mitchell Fessenden, Southern Cayuga HS
Macmillan Hall 313
3 kids. 1 dream. Broadband internet for all of the good boys and girls of Southern Cayuga. SUPA Public Affairs is where we learn about the intricacies of local government in a low pressure situation.

Mid-Day Keynote: 12:20-1:25 pm

The Feasibility of Aquaponic Food Production in New York
Paula Turkon, Ithaca College
Stratton Hall 209
Integrated agricultural systems work by mimicking nature’s systems to create productive agriculture with minimum input and close to zero waste. This presentation will explore the feasibility of using aquaponics, a modernized version of an ancient integrative agricultural system, as a way to increase the sustainability of food production in New York State. Read more.

Session 4: 1:30-2:20 pm

Preparation for Nonviolent Action (session continues until 3:20)
Andy Mager
Sommer Center, Smith Hall
This session will provide an overview of active nonviolence, a strategy for creating social change. Participants will learn, share and experience aspects of nonviolent action to help them prepare for engaging in the critical work of social change. Andy Mager has been active for over 30 years as an organizer, trainer, activist, writer and speaker. Andy served on the staff of the Syracuse Peace Council and as project coordinator for the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign.

Sex and Social Justice: Bodily Autonomy in the Digital Age
Rachel A.K. Snyder, Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York
Stratton Hall 209
Does social media present an issue or a plus in modern sexuality? Do we have bodily autonomy in a digital age? Explore these and other questions in a brave space. This presentation will explore civic engagement through the intersection of humanity, technology, and social justice.

Session 5: 2:30-3:20 pm

Preparation for Nonviolent Action (continued from previous session)
Andy Mager
Sommer Center, Smith Hall
See description above.

The Yik Yak Project @ Wells
Bias Incident Response Team, Wells College
Stratton Hall 209
Join members of Wells College Bias Incident Response Team to talk about Yik Yak at Wells and ways we can work together to change the way we use social media.  A short video project will be created as well and we hope many campus partners will be involved.  Faculty, staff and students are all welcomed and encouraged to join us as we brainstorm ways of being #activists without causing harm! 

Umoja’s Activism through the Evolution of Social Media
Umoja, Wells College
Macmillan Hall 313
Members of Umoja will discuss the history of the student organization in activism and how the evolution of social media accounts has affected our approach and reach to Wells’ student body, other institutions, and the development of a fan base from outside spectators.

Community Reception @ 4

Meet in Stratton Atrium to talk about the day’s events, meet students and presenters, and prepare for the evening keynote address.

Evening Keynote 4:30 to 6:00 pm

Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men
Stratton Hall 209
As The Yes Men—representatives of Exxon, Halliburton, Dow Chemical, and the U.S. federal government—Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno use humor, truth and lunacy to bring media attention to the crimes of their unwilling employers. Their impersonation of big-time corporate criminals while armed with nothing but quick wits and thrift store suits highlights crimes against humanity and the environment that are often ignored or hidden. Read more.

Those who pre-register will have lunch provided. For more information, email dfoote@wells.edu.

Since 2002, Activism Symposium has been an annual opportunity for the Wells community to gather and learn more about the difference we each can make individually and collectively in this world. The purpose of the student-centered symposium is to promote civic engagement, encourage critical thinking, and find links between the academy and the world at large. One objective of the day is to empower Wells and local community members to use the college as a space for advancing social justice and community development through interdisciplinary study.

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April 4, 2016 9:00 am


April 4, 2016 9:00 am


170 Main St
Aurora, NY 13026 United States

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