Meet the Co-founders of HSAS’s Newest Club: The Advocacy Club
Nora Demak, Grade 9, Staff Writer
Social justice campaigns have come to play a large role in American politics. Even those who are not eligible to vote are passionate about finding ways to be heard. The importance of informing students on various social issues and encouraging activism has spread to the High School of American Studies. Two students, Talia Homer [‘22] and Anya Mateu-Asbury [‘22], founded the Advocacy Club, one of the school’s newest clubs, which is designed to provide resources and information to students who want to contribute to social justice movements.
It is important to Homer and Mateu-Asbury that HSAS students feel that they can make an impact, even if they cannot yet vote. They spread their message through a newsletter about certain causes, including places to donate and other ways to help. Mr. Iurato distributes the newsletter to the student body. One newsletter has already been sent out and the club plans to send out another in a few months.
To join the Advocacy Club, students can fill out this form at any point in the school year: https://forms.gle/5VWeZvbwx77TpnxM8. Any member of the HSAS community is welcome to join. The club meets every Wednesday at 4:00, and meetings last anywhere from fifteen to forty-five minutes.
The meetings usually start with a check-in with members about any current projects. “Then, if we are talking about a new topic, we will have an open and honest discussion with our group members about it,” said Mateu-Asbury. “After that, we will brainstorm to decide how we would like to spread the information we discussed. Last, we decide what we would like to have done by the next meeting.”
The club already has a press secretary, and they plan to create more leadership positions as they continue to develop the club. A press secretary is key as the club seeks to reach more and more people. “We have started an Instagram account to have a larger impact on the student body and reach more people,” says Homer. “We have even accumulated some followers who don't attend HSAS.”
Homer and Mateu-Asbury started the club after they participated in the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute this past summer. It was then that the pair became more committed to social justice issues. “We wanted to share what we learned with the HSAS community,” said Mateu-Asbury.
Like all school organizations, COVID-19 has forced the Advocacy Club to adapt. For now, the meetings are virtual, and future events may also take place online. Homer and Mateu-Asbury say they are considering a phone-banking Zoom meeting or some sort of fundraiser.
When the pandemic restrictions are lifted, the club will have closer contact with HSAS faculty, whom the club leaders hope will facilitate the changes they would like to make. Presumably, protests will resume after the pandemic and the Advocacy Club hopes to attend those protests together.
Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has made it difficult to get the club started. Still, “[w]e are really excited about the positive response we have received. We are definitely just getting started, but we hope to accomplish a lot more in the future,” said Homer.