Three Temple student activists have been given the opportunity to promote their causes by being chosen to partake in the second annual Young People For National Summit in Washington, D.C.
YP4 is a high-status national fellowship program that is dedicated to teaching student leadership skills.
Campus leaders Christine Katz, Kimberly Teplitzky and Lauren Bedell-Stiles were three of 165 Fellows from 60 different campuses who participated in this program for young elected officials on Jan. 13 through Jan. 16.
“What is important for the People for the American Way is that they wanted to see that the Fellows would act on our beliefs and not just stand around complaining about the current environment,” Bedell-Stiles, a freshman, said. “The phone interview dealt with what we planned on working towards and how we’d do it.”
Teplitzky, a senior journalism major, was referred by an acquaintance to the people of YP4. Teplitzky is head of the Temple Student Government Clean Energy Campaign and involved in Students for Environmental Action. She has worked toward an improvement in these areas not only on Temple’s campus, but also through the state and the country.
Katz, a sophomore, was nominated by Teplitzky to participate in the summit. Also a SEA facilitator, Katz said she was excited to learn new techniques and skills on how to get the public and media’s attention during the workshops at the summit.
Bedell-Stiles also received the chance to participate in this year’s summit. Bedell-Stiles is a Student Labor Action Project member at Temple and primarily works with the Sweat-Free labor movement.
YP4 is a branch of the People for the American Way Foundation. PFAWF is focused on sustaining a diverse democratic society. YP4 is dedicated to building youth’s progressive power on college campuses. To take part as a Fellow, students are required to complete an online application that includes several essays and a phone interview with a YP4 representative.
This was only the second year for the summit, but it has already grown in size – for the 2005 meeting, YP4 accommodated students from 50 campuses in 10 states. Shaunna Thomas, the expansion programs coordinator for Young People For, said YP4 would be holding the summits in four regional sites to be convenient to students’ particular geographical location.
“The YP4 is the only program of its kind. It’s completely free for the participants, and it brings campus leaders together that are all doing similar work,” Teplitzky said.
The summit comprised two workshops that addressed various issues and skills technique. The issues seminar concentrated on issues like environmental justice, labor movements, civil rights, reproductive rights and a media boot camp.
“A highlight for me was meeting Carl Lipscombe, who is the national coordinator of SLAP. He spoke during the Labor Rights seminar about union organizing and identifying union busting,” Bedell-Stiles said.
The skills workshops taught the Fellows how to creatively get the attention of people. There were workshops that taught interviewing skills for TV or radio, how to start a progressive publication, and how to effectively communicate progressive values.
“What was wonderful is that most of the students only have a few areas of particular interest, but we were subjected to learning about so many different areas,” Teplitzky said.
YP4 is a year-round fellowship. The 165 Fellows who participated in January’s summit are asked to keep in touch with People for the American Way on their progress and work done on campus. This year’s Fellows returned to school this semester with self-designed Blueprints for Social Change, which focus on creating change in their communities.
“There are a lot of creative ways to get the word out, in which many of the students didn’t know about,” Katz said. “There were experienced activists that spoke during the summit that taught us what we can do around campus – such as writing information about rallies on the chalkboards in our classrooms, or doing workshops around the dorms.”
Megan Kelsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.