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Planning Your Campaign

Back to the Skills Toolbox

A good campaign isn’t just a series of unconnected events and rallies. It must be based on a coherent idea of what’s going to be achieved and how to achieve it. For a campaign to succeed there must be a set of goals; an understanding of the campaign’s impact upon your organization, constituents and allies; and knowledge of the opponents, targets, tactics and timelines.

Although campaign planning may seem a little daunting at first, don't worry – it can be among the most interesting and intellectually engaging parts of organizing. And, be willing to invest time at the beginning of your campaign to produce a detailed campaign plan. The thoughtfulness and consideration that goes into your campaign plan at the onset will likely be a major determining factor of the campaign's eventual success. Most importantly, have fun with it – campaign planning is a unique and exciting process that too few people ever experience.

Campaign Anatomy Choosing Your Tactics
Power Developing Your Campaign Message
Before You Start Timelines
Setting Campaign Goals Managing Your Resources
Assessing Your Capabilities Campaign Phases
Building Your Organization Typical Troubles - And Avoiding Them
Choosing Your Targets More Information
Deciding On Your Strategy  

Campaign Anatomy

“If at first you don’t succeed, escalate, escalate, escalate again.”
(Aaron Kreider)

This is a brief overview of what your campaign might look like. Basically, most campaigns have 7 parts:

..........1. Research
..........2. Choose your campaign
..........3. Plan/Strategize
..........4. Recruit / Educate / Build Coalitions
..........5. Interact with target
..........6. Win or Regroup
..........7. Evaluate

These different parts do not necessarily take place consecutively. You might start with some recruitment, do some research, then choose your campaign. Planning and strategizing are crucial. They require your group to lay out clear goals, identify resources and allies, identify the decision makers who can give you what you want, and plan your tactics. Recruitment, education and coalition building are the means to build support and power to win your campaign.

Interaction with the target is a nice way of saying that you are asking for what you want. The target is the person/people who can give you what you want. This step really tests the strength of the group, yet it pertains to the area that is most familiar to groups: tactics. You may be able to walk into the president’s office, sit down and say "Bob, I think it’s time we get rid of disposables in the cafeteria," and get the response, "Yes Sir." If that’s the case, well, either you’re lucky or you just gave the school a library. If you’re like most campus activists, you’d be stopped at the president’s secretary, which means you need to do something a little more exciting. Interaction with the target does not need to be confrontational, but don’t be afraid of confrontation.

Finally, you win or regroup (a nice way of saying that you lost and need to reevaluate your goals). At each turning point or after a campaign is won, it is critical for your group to evaluate your actions and decide ways to do the next tactic or campaign better.

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Power is not only what you have but what your opponents think you have.

The form of power you won't have

Before you can develop a good campaign, you should understand power. Although power is often abused and used to oppress others, don’t be fooled: power is “value-neutral” and organizing is a form of building it. Although we may lack money or institutional power, students can often (through our use of organizing) mobilize people power. Organizing is about leveling the playing field: sharing power with students, the community, and the public. Basically, organizing is about democracy. In your campaign, you should assess the power your members and allies have, compare it with your opponents’, and choose an area where you can over-power them and win.

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Before You Start

Before you try to organize students at your school, you should first consult with faculty, alumni, and other students who’ve formed progressive organizations there. Find out what worked and what has failed. Don’t repeat the mistakes of others; learn from the past. Do your research and find out what precedents may exist: campaigns at your university similar to what you’re thinking of. For instance, if you’re considering running a divestment campaign, it would be useful to know if any divestment efforts had been successful in the past (such as Apartheid or Tobacco).

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Setting Campaign Goals
Be realistic, demand the impossible. (May 1968)

Once your group has chosen a campaign, it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty details of planning it. Never begin a campaign without setting clear goals.

You wish

A goal is a concrete, measurable end that you want to reach.

You need to be able to refer back to it later and answer the question: “Have we won?” Your goals should be defined as specifically as possible, and divided into long-range, medium range and short-range goals.

..........Long-Term Goals: These are far-reaching goals that you hope to achieve eventually. Your current campaign is a step towards reaching these goals. Long-term goals are important because they keep your group focused on the deeper and more systemic change you seek while you’re addressing immediate issues.
..........Intermediate Goals: These are the tangible goals that you intend to reach as a result of your current campaign. A common mistake of campaign planners is to only develop goals at this level.
..........Short-Term Goals: These goals are steps towards your intermediate goals. Short-term goals are important because (1) small victories along the way to the larger goals keep members enthusiastic and optimistic about the possibility of eventual success and (2) groups often need go through a stage of organizational development or power building (i.e., increase in membership size, gain the support of other student organizations, etc.) before they can win intermediate or current campaign goals. Campaigns will frequently have several short-term goals that act much like benchmarks to track the group's progress.

For instance:

..........Long range: Forcing Dow to accept its responsibilities in Bhopal
..........Medium range: Forcing your school to divest from Dow or vote in favor of the Bhopal Shareholder’s Resolution
..........Short range: Passing a resolution in favor of divestment/shareholder advocacy through the faculty senate.

Notice that your long-range goal is not the objective of your current campaign. However the medium-range goal that you’ve set, which is the objective of your campaign, will help build pressure for Dow to agree to your longer-range goal.

There could be various and multiple short-term goals for this campaign (e.g., collect 10,000 petition signatures in support of divestment, elicit a supportive editorial from the campus newspaper, etc.). The specific short-term or tactical goals that you set will depend on your strategy. The nature of these goals will become clearer after we discuss strategy and tactics in the following sections.

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Assessing Your Capabilities

Once you have a clear sense of your goals, it’s critical that your group assesses its organizational strengths and weaknesses. What resources are currently available to your group? What resources are you lacking? In this assessment, be certain to consider all types of resources - money, volunteers, facilities, skills, time, connections, reputation, and others. Also ask what internal problems, if any, need to be fixed before you can move forward.

This is also the time to identify your friends and enemies – those allies you should reach out to assist with the campaign and those opponents who may attempt to hinder your campaign efforts.

To identify your allies, you should answer the following questions:
..........• Who cares about this issue?
..........• Would they share your campaign goals?
..........• What are their strengths (e.g., credibility, part of a larger network, money, special skills, very newsworthy, special appeal, etc.)?
..........• What are their weaknesses?
..........• Who is most affected by this issue? Whose problem is it?
..........• What are the potential gains if they win?
..........• What risks might they be taking to work on the issue?
..........• Are these people organized into groups? If so, which groups?
..........• How are these groups structured? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

To identify your opponents, you should answer the following questions:
..........• What groups or individuals are likely to oppose your efforts?
..........• What will your campaign victory cost them?
..........• What are their strengths and weaknesses?
..........• What will they likely do or spend to oppose you?

Try not to limit yourself to "traditional" allies and opponents. For instance, on campus, traditional allies of progressive causes include the environmental club, the anti-sweatshop group, the LGBT organization, and others. Examine carefully how the issue you are working on may affect other groups of people and reach out to them.

Be specific.

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Building Your Organization

The campaign should also build your organization. How can this campaign create new leaders and strengthen the ones you have? How can it bring in new members? How can it involve members at a variety of levels of commitment?

You should think about how many people your project could employ. This is especially important when planning for the introductory meeting, since you want new people to get involved. If you don’t involve them, they won’t stick around long. There should be a range of jobs, from light to heavy, to make it easy for new people to get involved without signing their life away. Try to increase each member’s level of commitment over time.

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Choosing Your Targets

The next step is identifying your campaign targets.

Power mapping will help you determine the best target for your campaign (pdf)

A target is the person(s) with the power to give you what you want.

You cannot simply pressure the “powers that be” - there must be a person that you’re asking to do something concrete. Even if the power to give you what you want is an institution (e.g., the university or Dow), it’s important to personalize the target. Identify who ultimately makes the decision within that institution or, at least, who has the most influence over it. That individual will be your target. By personalizing the target, you can take advantage of the human responses of decision makers during your campaign - ambition, guilt, fairness, fear, or vanity. These responses don’t exist in institutions as a whole.

When attempting to identify your target(s) when planning a campaign, start by asking the following questions:
..........• What individual or group of individuals has the power to give you what you want?
..........• If it’s a group of individuals, which specific individuals will you target to achieve your victory?
..........• What power do you have over your target(s)?
..........• What reason might the target(s) have to agree with you or oppose you?

Once you’ve identified your target, review your organizational resources and those of your allies and determine what influence you may hold over them. You may be able to convince your target to support your position if you have sufficient influence; otherwise, you’ll need to determine how to mobilize the power of your members and allies against the vulnerabilities of the target and pressure him or her to give you what you want.

If your group does not have any power or influence over your primary target, you’ll need to identify a secondary target. A secondary target is a person who can influence or has power over the primary target.

The enemy

To identify secondary targets, ask yourself the following questions:
..........• Which individuals can help you influence your primary targets?
..........• What is the nature of the secondary targets’ power over the primary targets?
..........• Who in your group or among your allies has pressure over the secondary target and can influence them to pressure the primary target?

For instance, suppose you’re trying to get the CEO of Wombat Invaders Inc. to stop selling baby formula that turns children into wombats. Even if you can’t influence him or her, stockholders can. Consumers can. The government can. If you’re trying to influence the University President, what about students & faculty? Alumni? Wealthy donors? Because unless you choose your targets strategically, wombats will soon march all over the face of the earth. And no one wants that.

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Deciding On Your Strategy

You’ve chosen your campaign, defined your goals, and assessed your campaign environment. Now it's time to devise your campaign strategy.

Strategy is a systematic set of tactics arranged to influence a specific target towards a specific goal.

Use this chart as you begin to map out your strategy (pdf)

It’s critical that you think strategically about your campaign so that you’ll succeed in reaching the goals you want to see fulfilled.

When mapping out campaign strategy, you should start by answering the following questions:
..........• Given the vulnerabilities of our target(s), where should we concentrate our efforts (e.g., media attention, faculty support, alumni support, students, etc.)? Feel free to choose more than one.
..........• What tactics might we use to do so (e.g., resolutions, direct action, media stunts, prominent endorsements, rallies, petition signatures, etc.)? Feel free to choose more than one.

Keep your organizational strengths and weaknesses in mind. Don’t bite off more than you can chew (for instance, a mass mailing to alumni if you have $10 in your account) or concentrate your efforts where your organization is weak (for instance, by organizing direct actions without the proper training).

Are you a running a majority campaign or minority one? Majority campaigns rely upon educating the majority of people to support you in theory, whether or not they do it explicitly. If you want to maintain mass support you’ll be limited in the tactics you can choose – pouring red paint on the shoes of your college President, for example, is bound to turn some folks off.

The alternative is to mobilize a small group of really committed people and rely upon the neutrality or apathy of the masses. A minority could exert substantial pressure by occupying a building, sitting in trees threatened with logging, or holding weekly protests which cause your target to negotiate (and/or give-in) just to get rid of you. Generally majority campaigns are most successful. If you do decide to use controversial tactics in a majority campaign, make sure that folks understand what you’re doing and why it’s important.

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Choosing Your Tactics

Now that you have a sensible strategy in mind, you can choose your tactics.

Tactics serve your campaign plan by pressuring your target(s) to give you what you want.

Acting out or implementing tactics are often people's favorite part of a campaign. Unfortunately, as a result, many people neglect the previous campaign planning steps and jump right to this point. Not surprisingly, these campaign efforts often end up becoming a disjointed collection of tactics lacking strategic coherency and a real sense of how they’re working towards achieving the central goal.

Tactics should:
..........• Fit into an overall strategy. For example, if you’re trying to get faculty support for your divestment/shareholder advocacy campaign, holding a call in day to Dow, while fun, may not be the best way to go about it.
..........• Make sense to your members and supporters. Don’t do something that your members think is crazy.
..........• Be flexible and creative. If your methods fit the same old patterns, you’ll get the same old responses. If possible, do something that is outside the experience of the target. Befuddle them if you can.
..........• Have follow-up built in. How often have you done something, had fun doing it, and then wondered where it got you? Each step should set you up for the next one, just as a good pool player sets up for the next shot.

Consider the following when determining your tactics:
..........• Who are we trying to influence with this tactic? How will it influence them?
..........• What kind of power are we bringing into this situation? How are we applying it?
..........• How are we following through? How does this tactic build our power for the next step?

You need to be clear on these things if your tactic is to have any long-range impact. Is your rally to influence the public or the administration? Will the media you get from it raise awareness for an upcoming vote? Why should the President care about 100 students on her front lawn anyway?

Follow-up is especially important. Are you demanding a meeting and setting a deadline or just making some noise and walking away? What will you do if they do nothing?

If you develop a goal for each tactical action, it’ll be easier to assess your progress. For instance, rather than stating that you’ll generate phone calls to your university president and leaving it at that, state that you’ll generate 300 calls.

Tactical goals are really a type of short-term campaign goal and, thus, can serve as benchmarks to measure the progress of your campaign effort and to generate excitement among your membership at achieving victories. Your group should celebrate these victories, however small they might be, to encourage optimism and enthusiasm within the organization.

During your campaign, you should try to innovate so as to keep your target guessing and worried, to maximize your power, to keep your constituency interested and mobilized, to have fun, and to maximize your press coverage. Innovation does not require brilliant ideas. Most innovation is simply stealing an idea that worked at other place or at another time but has not been done recently at your school. At a school where activism is rare, holding a traditional rally could count as innovation – you could be the first group that school year to mobilize fifty people! Chalking on the sidewalks, putting up several hundred dramatic posters, passing out leaflets, or just writing a letter to the editor can all be radical innovative acts at inactive schools. You might want to do something like have twenty students sit-in at an office (either for a couple hours, days, or weeks), get a thousand students to wear armbands, create a tent city, sponsor a class boycott, or do another activity that will catch people’s attention.

Tactic innovation has been a great boon to student movements whether it was sitting-in at lunch counters to fight segregation, draft-card burning, going on strike (as millions of students did in May 1970), divesting from South African apartheid, occupying buildings (Ontario students in 1997), sitting-in to oppose sweatshops, or putting on a play (Vagina Monologues). Generally each new tactic, if it’s a good idea, leads to a surge in activism.

You can also innovate in your forms of education. Perhaps you might want to focus on a different aspect of the issue every week, so that you appeal to different groups of people, your message stays interesting, and you overwhelm your opposition and apathetic students with reasons for why your issue matters.

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Developing Your Campaign Message

Now that you know what you want and who’s going to give it to you, it’s necessary to develop your campaign message. A campaign message or slogan is a short (10 words or less), clear, and persuasive statement that is used in all campaign communications (verbal or written) to deliver a quick and consistent description of your campaign effort to the media, the public, potential allies, and others. Campaign messages are very useful to ensure that the primary target of your campaign is receiving a clear and consistent demand regardless of the source of that communication. Keep in mind the old saying that when you become physically ill at having to repeat the campaign message for the umpteenth time, only then is it finally starting to seep into the public's consciousness.

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Sometimes projects drag on with no real sense of progress. To avoid this, draw up a timeline. This is simply a schedule for when you expect to get things done.

This is especially important when preparing for things with definite dates, like rallies and talks.

Think carefully about all things that need to get done and when they need to get done by. At your meetings, decide on a reasonable amount of time for assignments to get done. The items on the timeline should be specific. For instance:

..........• 2/7 - Assign someone to make a poster for the Toxic Buffet and get it printed.
..........• 2/14 - Hand out posters, assign people to buildings and get them posted by the 17th.
..........• 2/19 - Deliver press releases to local papers.
..........• 2/21 - Chow Down!

Look at the student calendar before you set a timeline. Be aware of vacations, holidays, weather, major sports events, and so on. Try to avoid conflict with other people’s meetings, events, and exams. Also consider the student power cycle.

Student Power Cycle
The ability of student activists to mobilize supporters varies throughout the student year due to turnover, academic pressure, holidays, weather, student enthusiasm and other factors. The cycle that follows is designed for colleges using a semester system.

At the beginning of the year student power is very low, because of the long summer break and because of the loss of students who have graduated, dropped-out, gone abroad, or changed their personal priorities. However, students are in a good mood and ready to join new activities or to reinvigorate their involvement in past ones. Thus this is an excellent time to start a new group, launch a new campaign, or reinvigorate an old one. Student power will quickly build due to enthusiasm and good weather reaching a peak right before mid-term exams. It will decline during exams and afterwards during the fall break. However after this, student power will swiftly recover and reach a peak that is as high or greater than the first fall peak. A week or so before final exams, student power will sharply decline and remain at negligible levels over winter break.

In the winter (or spring) semester, student power will not recover as quickly as during the fall because of the cold weather which discourages outdoor activism and the lesser enthusiasm of the returning students whose winter vacation was shorter than that of the summer. However, as student activists have been educating, agitating, and recruiting for several months, as the semester progresses and the weather improves, student power will hit a strong peak before midterm exams. It will decline sharply during spring break, but return to achieve its highest potential of the entire school year. If you want to maximize your chance of success, you should plan to have your largest mobilizations during this peak in March or April. Finally, student power will decline as final exams and summer approach.

This is a general approximation of how student power changes over time. Other holidays (such as Thanksgiving and Easter) may have a significant negative impact. Also sports games or school-specific events (like a Parents or Siblings weekend) can also hurt. Students are affected differently by this cycle, for instance graduate students who do not have course work may still be able to work very hard at the end of the semester.

If you can control the timeline (often timelines are determined or partially determined by external factors like an administration’s actions), it makes sense to structure a campaign so that the final peak of your movement is in March/April. That is when you demonstrate your support and have your final showdown with your administration. It makes sense that you do not want to put all your energy into winning in January or February, if it reduces your chance of success and if it means that you could be stuck with a couple months at the end of the school year during which you will not have enough time to restructure and redo your campaign or to start another one. You do not want to start a campaign only to lose most of its momentum over the summer break.

In the case of a very hard campaign, you might want to find a secondary goal that will put you on the path to your real goal and to try and achieve this secondary goal in March/April. Or if the campaign is not so hard, you might strive for your secondary goal in October or November, and the real win in March/April. If the campaign is easy, you could try to win it all in one semester. Although you don’t have to structure your timeline to perfectly fit this energy cycle, you should keep it in mind and use it when it could help you.

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Managing Your Resources

The last component of campaign planning is to manage your resources. Funding and volunteers will probably be your biggest concern. Quite simply, after you’ve determined what your goals, strategies, and tactics will be, calculate how much the campaign will cost your group and develop a campaign budget.

Lastly, just like with funding, you should assess how many volunteers you’ll need to help you run this campaign. Even if your current membership is large enough to run your campaign, make one of your organizational goals to recruit more members. Also, consider how you can use this campaign as a way to train your members in new skills and build group leadership.

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Campaign Phases

Generally, campaigns go through several phases:

Ask nicely. You try to meet with the people who can make the change you want and either can’t get a meeting or you’re rebuffed. (This is an exercise that you must go through in order to be able to say later that you tried the “just ask them and they’ll listen” approach and it didn’t work.)

Education & Action. These go hand-in-hand. You educate people about the problem and try to gain mass support by holding rallies, using petitions, holding public hearings, flyering students on campus, writing letters-to-the-editor of the campus paper, bringing in speakers, etc.

A simplistic strategy for winning a campaign would be to divide your time into two phases. During the first phase you’d tell everyone about the problem (education), and in the second you‘d engage in action that would mobilize everyone - and then you’d win.

However, you’ll need a more complex strategy to maximize your chances of success – one that recognizes the need to integrate action and education into the same phases. First you should do initial research about the issue so that you have your facts straight (note: you should continue to do research as the campaign progresses). Keep in mind that while you may start your campaign by focusing on research and education, if you don’t move quickly to a combined action and education phase, you’ll risk demobilizing your supporters. Many people will rightfully suspect that a group with a purely educational campaign that relies upon making moral or rational appeals to a powerful elite is deluding itself! These folks will either join another organization that has a better strategy or stay away from activism.

Thus from the beginning of your campaign, you’ll want it to be clear that you’ll engage in a campaign that will rock your school and/or community with ACTION. Your movement will be mobilizing hundreds of people, building and demonstrating power, and that’s why you have a good chance of winning.

The Dow Grim Reaper

The powerful tonic for success combines action with education. You have action to mobilize people, to demonstrate your power, to keep things exciting, and to show that you mean “business”. Meanwhile you constantly incorporate education into your campaign. At first your educational goal is simply to demonstrate that there is a PROBLEM to a modest sized group of students. Bad stuff is going down and you have a realistic means of tackling it. You should get enough supporters so that you can engage in major actions, such as rallies, without being embarrassed by a lack of attendance.

As your campaign progresses, you’ll be able to expand the reach of your educational activities from beyond targeting the usual suspects (progressive students and organizations) to finding ways of involving students who might normally be moderate, apathetic, or even conservative. If your issue is being debated all over the student newspaper, on the walls and sidewalks of your school with posters and chalk, by speakers, and in leafleting, protests, and other actions – then students who’d normally avoid getting involved will become interested.

In addition, as your campaign progresses and grows your members will be better prepared to educate others. They shall be able to provide both a simple argument that will convince most people why you’re correct, as well as a lengthier analysis of how this issue is connected to other issues and how your goal is a small step in a larger movement to create lasting change. It’ll become obvious to everyone on campus that your group really knows its stuff!

Negotiations. After you’ve shown your strength your target should be more willing to negotiate. However, they’ll probably stall. If so, you’ll need to escalate. You may want to do so by using traditional institutions like student government and faculty senate to gather legitimacy for your cause. You may also want to demonstrate that the masses are on your side with a rally or a petition. If you’re still being denied, you may want to do a referendum, one or more mass demonstrations, or ultimately consider civil disobedience (such as a sit-in).

On the other hand, there are times when you may not want to enter a cycle of endless escalation. In some situations it can be strategic to take a step back. For instance, if it appears that your target is granting serious consideration to your demands, you might want to reduce your level of confrontation and give them a chance to change their position. You don’t want to make it extremely difficult for them to grant your demands. At the same time, you don’t want to completely withdraw pressure – as they may just be stalling for time.

Win or lose. If you don't win, you should step back and reevaluate the campaign.

If you’ve won, it is time to celebrate your victory, perhaps analyze your achievements and failures, and to move on to the next campaign. If you are about to win a campaign, you may want to start small actions against similar targets to which your campaign could be extended. For instance, if you are working for a wage increase you could target additional employers in your community.

What do you do if you didn’t win? Perhaps you simply had to fight the good fight in the hopes that your activism will lead to a future win, or that by fighting you’ll educate students about an important issue (like corporate accountability) while training yourself and your fellow group members how to organize campaigns. Perhaps you underestimated the opposition and overestimated how much students would care about the issue. If this is the case, then you might want to try another campaign where you can mobilize more people and may have a better chance of winning.

If you decide to stick with the same campaign, then you should analyze what needs to be done better.

Be careful to avoid non-strategic escalation and martyring yourself for this cause. You may find this particularly appealing if you are about to graduate and you feel that this is the last chance for your movement to succeed. However, a tiny group of people engaging in extremely radical action may alienate your supporters and destroy any chance your campaign has of success. If you cannot convince the upcoming leaders/continuing members in your group to continue with the campaign, it may be for the best and they may know something that you do not.

On the other hand, if your group decides to continue with the campaign there are several things to consider. Perhaps you timed your campaign to peak too early and should have waited for March or April to pull off your largest action. Or it is likely that you will need to build a larger coalition to bring in more people to support you and then to mobilize these people in a mass, low risk action like a traditional rally, and also to engage in higher-risk forms of activity like a sit-in. Your strategy may have failed because you failed to organize enough people (a question of “width”) or because you failed to get them involved enough (a question of “depth”). To solve the width issue you might need a systematic education campaign that could mean doing presentations to as many classes as possible (Indiana University No Sweat did presentations to thousands of students before they met with their administration), canvassing the dorms to talk to people individually, holding meetings in each dorm or on each floor of each dorm (students at Macalester did this for their anti-sweatshop campaign). To solve the depth issue you might want to create a direct action planning group to organize a sit-in or other dramatic action at the peak of the student power cycle. Even just leaking the threat of such an event may be enough to push your target to agree to your demands (For instance by collecting a list of students who would be willing to engage in a sit-in). During the anti-sweatshop movement due to the large number of sit-ins at other schools, administrators knew that if they did not cooperate with student activists at their school that their student activists might do a sit-in.

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Typical Troubles - And Avoiding Them

Too Little, Too Late
"Our project got started too late in the semester, and we didn't have time to do what we wanted." Many projects don't get underway until halfway through the term when everyone's schedules are more hectic. This may be due to student procrastination, but is sometimes the fault of schedules imposed by the teacher. Time shortages plague most projects, so start as early as possible.

Died on the Vine
"We got off to a great start, but then things kind of fell apart." Many projects have a high-energy, promising beginning but wither away by the end of the semester. It's easy to let exams, papers, and a lively social life eat up your time. Plus, projects take steady, diligent work. It is one thing to write up a great project plan but quite another to carry it out. Set a brisk but manageable pace early, and keep checking your progress against the list of tasks that lie ahead.

"But I Left a Message . . ."
"I left two emails and a voice-mail message and am waiting to hear from them." A common situation is when a student needs to make a critical contact and the person is not in. So they leave a message on the person's answering machine, or send an email, and then wait -- sometimes for weeks. In voice mail, sometimes hitting "0" will ring through to a secretary or someone else. Call the person's department, see if they are around, ask for the best times to call, be creative in getting to phones on campus.

If At First You Don't Succeed…
"I called this guy and he said our idea can't be done." Sometimes students are told their project will never work, or it will take too much time, or "I'm too busy to help." And in one instance, a student was told he had to get permission for his idea from the chancellor, when all it really took was approval from a mid-level employee. As in any workplace, some people strongly resist change. Work with your staff or faculty client, or other friendly contacts, who can open doors for you. Check with different people at different levels to see if there is a way something can be done.

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More Information

..........Cover Story: A Fun Shared Vision Exercise by Idealist on Campus
..........Talking With Men In Ties by Daniel Hunter
..........The Student Power Cycle by Aaron Kreider

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The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: April 30, 2008


"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal