GV’s Amnesty International hosts Statewide Convention
On Feb. 2, Grand Valley State University’s Amnesty International chapter hosted the 2013 Michigan Statewide Conference.
Amnesty International is a worldwide organization with over 2 million members dedicated to human rights issues, such as children’s rights, immigrant’s rights, LGBT rights, death penalty and more than 20 other issues.
GVSU’s chapter president Christina Uplinger said the university’s chapter was chartered six years ago and currently has 15 regular members.
“We educate the campus and community on human rights issues,” Uplinger said. “Our focus is education and getting word out about different cases.”
The student area coordinator for Michigan came to one of the meetings to check up and see what they were doing and in turn elected GVSU’s chapter to be the student group of the year for the Midwest region, Uplinger said. With that, he also asked them to host the statewide meeting at the Allendale campus.
In Michigan, there are more than 10 groups, both at universities and in communities. Unfortunately, due to the weather many could not attend the convention at GVSU.
From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, people came out to listen to several speakers talk about a wide variety of human rights issues.
One speaker talked about human rights issues in Argentina and the United States, a student environmental coalition talked about issues dealing with the environment and a GVSU professor talked about LGBTQ. There was also a representative from Habitat for Humanity to talk about housing as a human right and a speaker from Threaten Innocence – a human trafficking group.
The group also hosts other events throughout the year, such as “No Women, No Cry”, which was a movie screening and discussion on maternal mortality. The film was shown during the fall semester and 40 to 50 people showed up to watch.
The organization as a whole also does a Global Write-a-thon every year. Members from all over the world write letters to people who have been imprisoned for their ideas, Uplinger said. This year, GVSU’s chapter sent out around 170 letters.
Uplinger’s interest in helping people started long before she came to GVSU.
“I’ve always been really interested in human right’s issues. When I was little it started out as animal rights but then transitioned into people ‘cause I want to be a social worker,” Uplinger said. “I’m really interested in learning about other people and other cultures.”
The organization’s next goal is to fundraise to go to the National Convention in order to make the trip as close to free as possible. The convention takes place every year in March and this year it will be held in Washington D.C.
“We’re open to anyone and any beliefs,” Uplinger said. “We like to have fun at our meetings too, it’s not all just about depressing stuff.”
The group meets every Friday at 9 p.m. For more information, check out facebook.com/amnestygv?ref=ts&fref=ts or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.