A two-day conference promoting social change via student activism will feature a speech by a former Ugandan child soldier.
The young man and the nonprofit organization Invisible Children are coming to Cal Poly as part of the Change the Status Quo Conference that will also have different workshops and presentations on Feb. 26 and 27.
This year the conference workshops are geared towards giving students “tangible tools” to use as advocates of social change in the world. The different workshops range from talks on world hunger to genetically modified organisms to ecological reform.
Michelle Fox, a social sciences junior and one of the conference directors said she is looking forward to the variety of workshops being given.
“I’m most excited about a workshop called ‘Who is Left behind’ that’s focusing on who is getting affected by the budget cuts and the lack of funding for higher education,” Fox said.
One of the other headlining workshops at the conference is about California energy and is being run by the Cal Poly students who started “HelpUsMom.com.” Help Us Mom was started by eight Cal Poly students and alumni to encourage the nation’s youth to write letters of concern regarding climate change to local officials.
Like that workshop, Change the Status Quo focuses on the student society and ways students can change the world without necessarily having to give money. Rather, it’s aimed at offering them ways to physically help and dedicate their time to different causes they might be interested in.
Social sciences senior Morgan Roth said she is excited for this year’s event.
“I think (Change the Status Quo) is a really good event for anyone to attend. I went the last two years and learned a lot,” she said. “Last year we had Family Care Network people come to teach us what they do and how they do it.”
Fox said after finding Jacob, the former child soldier, the event began to take shape.
“It was really important to us to get something grassroots because (the conference) focuses on student life, not just anyone,” Fox said.
Invisible Children was started in 2003 by three students from San Diego to help the youth of Uganda affected by the mass genocide. Ugandan children are being forced from their homes and into a life of war. The group made multiple documentaries called “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” featuring the individual stories of some of these children, one of whom was Jacob.
Chemistry senior Joe Bullen is working to start a chartered club here at Cal Poly affiliated with Invisible Children and will be participating in this weekend’s conference.
“I’m hoping this will be more impactful for people with him being there to speak,” Bullen said. “I’m hoping this will get the word out to people even more than it already is.”
Change the Status Quo kicks off Friday with workshop previews from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is followed directly by a slam poetry session until 7. Then, the Saturday conference starts with an optional yoga session at 8 a.m.
Jacob and the Invisible Children Road Crew will present at 9:15 a.m.; the conference lasts until 4 p.m.
Fox said the conference works as a great starting point for people who want to get involved but don’t know how or where to begin.
“The best part is knowing that there are hundreds of students in one room who are there to make a change,” Fox said.