Philippa Briglia and Lizzy Fitzgerald
YOUNG people consistently prove that they care deeply about issues of social and political importance and are prepared to commit themselves wholeheartedly to making the world a better place. Liberty Victoria is looking to harness this energy and passion by making it easier for Victoria’s students to get involved in the organisation’s ongoing efforts to defend civil liberties and promote human rights.
To this end, Liberty is looking to set up a series of university ‘hubs’, beginning with Melbourne and Monash. Students committed to Liberty’s core values will be able to pool their talents to actively campaign for their preservation through activities such as letter and submission writing and fundraising.
Education itself hinges on freedom of expression, and the university hubs will also aim to promote this fundamental right by helping to facilitate an energetic and ongoing dialogue about what ‘liberty’ really means. Many students feel disenchanted by the lack of complexity and depth with which the idea of ‘freedom’ is often treated in today’s political sphere, so to combat this, the hubs will work to co-ordinate guest speakers, debates and movie nights.
One of the main roles of the university hubs would be to organise and run activities on campus to raise awareness of rights-related issues. This would encourage student participation in Liberty campaigns while allowing students to develop skills that will be highly beneficial in their future careers — whether legal or otherwise — such as analytical skills, public speaking, letter writing, campaigning and advocacy.
Such activities could include a debate on a current issue in human rights, to be adjudicated by a Liberty Committee member, or inviting guest speakers to run a seminar on a relevant topic. These activities would have the double benefit of encouraging discussion and debate on rights-based issues, while promoting Liberty at the university.
As Liberty relies on its membership for funds, fundraising events are crucial to ensure that Liberty can continue to fight in the defence of civil liberties in Victoria and beyond. The university hubs would be an ideal forum in which to further promote and advertise Liberty fundraising events, such as the upcoming movie night. Independent fundraising events could also be held on campus.
Given the undoubted credentials and reputation of Liberty as a foremost human rights organisation, it is likely that the Liberty university hubs could easily be set up within the existing framework of university clubs and societies. This would not only mean the possibility of additional funding, but also greater exposure and student involvement by being included in the clubs/societies directory.
Further, this would include the option of setting up a stall at O Week to encourage first-year students to get involved in Liberty as they start their university life. O Week also provides a great opportunity to talk to new students and discover what they are looking for in a university-based organisation, and what sort of activities they would be keen to participate in.
Any students wishing to get involved in setting up a Liberty hub at their university or helping to run future Liberty events on campus should contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!