Two Wellesley students have recently founded Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), a student activist organization that plans to tackle multiple projects that deals with the intersection of issues regarding marginalized groups on campus.
The nationwide association has primarily promoted economic justice across college campuses, but Anne Conron ’18 and Lily Luo ’16 , co-founders of SLAP at Wellesley, believe that class issues are directly linked to other issues, such as race, gender and ability.
“This is our home, and we have to dedicate it to making it a place that destroys systems of oppression, systems of racism, sexism, ableism, classism and systems of cisgender heteronormativity,” said Conron. Cisgender heteronormativity refers to when a person identifies with the gender they were assigned to at birth.
For now, the group plans to focus on outreach and strategizing. Their first undertaking will be assisting the Student Leadership Stipend Committee (SLSC) in securing regular compensation for student leaders, including those in residential life and on College Government Cabinet.
SLAP has already reached out to the committee to start figuring out how they can support them. The organization also aims to provide assistance to the labor union for college employees in negotiation work conditions.
“We do want to create a space where everyone is welcome. This is an organization that is based off of people-power, and while we do have a plan for organizing, it’s also what the students want to see accomplished on this campus,” Conron said.
SLAP is holding open meetings for students to propose projects or ideas. In providing people power, the organization wants to educate student on how to be activists and support campus initiatives. For the SLSC initiative, they are thinking of holding a workshop on how students can tell their narratives as unpaid student leaders to garner more campus attention.
Wellesley’s SLAP chapter is part of a national movement created from the union of Jobs for Justice, an organization that fights for workers’ rights, and the U.S. Student Association, a large group of students that advocates for student interests. SLAP’s national goal is helping college students overcome oppression on their campuses.
Conron highlighted the role of Wellesley College as an institution that tries to combat systematic discrimination while serving as a community for the student body.
The co-founders contacted the national coordinator of SLAP this summer to set about creating a chapter on Wellesley’s campus that kicked off at the beginning of this year.
Luo hopes SLAP becomes both a focal point for dialogue about students’ vision of Wellesley College and a catalyst for a movement that aims to improve the well-being of all Wellesley students.
“[SLAP’s goal is] to create a movement that would not only fight for the Wellesley you want to go to, but also a space in which people could share that vision and come together and strategize collectively,” explained Luo.
Both Conron and Luo have always been interested in public policy, but the pair decided to form SLAP this past summer when they both worked at the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank.
Conron and Luo were inspired by the activism of people they worked with at the organization and wanted to bring that activism to Wellesley
“Growing up, I felt both defensive and ashamed of my parents’ status. I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t, but now I don’t want to lose my identity as a working-class person. I want to embrace that and have it celebrated,” one student said.
An open meeting was held this past Sunday for interested students to discuss the future of the organization.
Sophia Zupanc ’19 attended the meeting because of her interest in activism.
“As a first year, my first hope is to involved in a movement at Wellesley. I think it would be nice to be attached to the campus in that way and to actually change it for the better,” Zupanc said.
Interested students can attend the next SLAP meeting in the Lulu Cow Chair room on this Sunday at 6 p.m.
Photo by Alice Liang ’16, Managing Editor
Alice Liang ’16 is the managing editor of The Wellesley News, majoring in economics and political science. When not in the newsroom, she spends her time drinking coffee, watching Netflix, and supposedly writing her thesis. You can reach her at email@example.com.