Students Promoting Activism and Recruitment Campaign
This page is designed to give students some concrete ideas and tips on how to start an IPPNW student group at their unviersity - how to attract new members, start projects, evaluate them and stay in touch.
First of all, it would be advisable to check in the Affiliates-Register if your country already has an existing, active student chapter. In this case, it would be best to first contact them to find out what they're doing and how you might be able to join their efforts and bring in your own ideas.
If there is not already an active chapter in your country, don't despair. All it takes is one committed person to serve as a nucleus, a couple of friends who share your ideals, and a little time and effort. You will be amazed to discover how many of your classmates will want to get involved, especially with an organization who is internationally recognized and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. By providing concrete projects with which they can get involved, you are giving your fellow classmates a chance to expand their horizons and realize their potential to change the world in which we live. The following sections are aimed to give you a framework and suggestions for how to build a core group, recruit and maintain members and develop a chapter statement. We will also suggest possible projects and outline evaluation and feedback protocols to assess the effectiveness of your activities. Remember that this is only a framework and should be guided and amended to best suit your individual environments.
Building a core group of members
This can be as simple as joining together with two or three of your friends or approaching students in your class who have expressed interest in the global issues IPPNW addresses. Once you have a few companions, and have recruited a faculty sponsor (if you so choose) you are ready to plan your first meeting and start advertising to your fellow classmates.
One effective way to let incoming students know about your chapter is to include a letter describing your group in the spring and summer mailings that the admissions office sends to new students. When school starts, you can follow this up by posting some flyers. You may also want to create a basic web site for your chapter that can link to both your school and IPPNW. Given the increased dependence of students on the Internet, this will surely be a good mechanism to attract attention to your cause. Another way to attract attention is to set up a table during student orientation, distribute literature, and tell students about IPPNW. You can have sign-up sheets to collect names, phone numbers, and email addresses for upcoming meetings.
Your first meeting
Your first meeting is very important. This is your chance to increase awareness about IPPNW among your fellow students and convince them to get involved. Advertise exhaustively to get as many participants as possible. Let people know of your meeting by posting posters, making email announcements, and spreading the news by word of mouth. It often helps to personally invite individuals who may be less likely to respond to mass advertisements.
You can start the meeting by introducing your core group and briefly describing IPPNW, its history, the international scope and your specific chapter mission. You may also wish to ask participants to say a little about themselves and perhaps why they are interested in IPPNW. That way, everyone will be recognized and they will begin the meeting as active participants. You can then begin to share your ideas about possible future projects and get input form all the participants. In choosing projects, decide on a few that offer variety within the scope of IPPNW, serve the needs of the community, and provide the most interest for students. Try to stay focused on the few projects chosen to ensure complete follow through and rewarding outcomes.
It is important at this point to begin to get volunteers who would be willing to commit to particular aspects of various projects. You may want to pass around a sheet and ask members to sign up for the project in which they may be most interested. Committees can then be formed and coordinators can be elected for each project. The next step is to ensure timely and dependable communication between the members as well as with the faculty advisor and administrators. Make sure to obtain member contact information before they leave the first meeting and let them know to expect messages from you on a regular basis. It is also highly recommended that you maintain contact with your regional representative and keep them updated as to your activities and likewise keep your members updated as to activities underway internationally among other student IPPNW chapters. It is vital that you plan some sort of activity soon after your first meeting so as to ensure chapter momentum. Interested students may be turned off if they feel that their time is unproductive.
Your chapter activities may range from the very small, to the very large. No matter what activities your chapter decides to pursue, there are a few simple steps that will make sure your time and effort will be spent as effectively and efficiently as possible. It may be convenient to consider your chapter activities in terms of projects and programs. Projects are discreet activities with a defined beginning and an end. Programs are longer-term, continuous activities that may well continue beyond your student years. One of the major challenges with establishing programs is ensuring continuity from year to year even after your graduation. It is a good idea to try and have a combination of both short-term projects and long-term programs.
Before planning any sort of activity, you should have an idea of where your efforts will have the most impact. Then, you need to devise a specific set of goals based on your findings. These goals should be clear, attainable, and ideally should be measurable. By articulating your goals clearly, you will have a better idea of what needs to be done to achieve them, and what problems may arise. You can also develop strategies for determining whether or not these goals are being met (this will be discussed in more detail below). By researching previous efforts, both within your chapter and internationally among other student chapters, it is possible to save yourself an enormous amount of time and effort, and avoid making the same mistakes that may have been made by your predecessors. This is not to say that you cannot come up with your own creative solutions, just that you should do so with the benefit of prior history. It is also essential that you investigate background issues relevant to your particular set of goals.
It would also be advantageous to conduct a resource assessment. Find out what resources are available to help you meet your goals. This would include people resources, material resources and institutional resources.
In deciding on projects and programs, remember that it is important to focus your efforts. Given limited resources and time, you want to develop projects and programs that are most likely to succeed. In choosing among various ideas you may want to ask:
Contact your regional or the international student representatives, if you feel that they can maybe assist you in realizing your project and ask them about the process of official endorsement by the IPPNW Board of Directors.
Evaluating projects and using this information to continuously improve your efforts is a vital part of being an effective student chapter. While program evaluation is an important means of ensuring that your chapter’s resources are being deployed as effectively as possible, it is important not to get caught up in an overly quantitative approach. Many of your important goals may be very difficult to measure. Following are some suggestions. No matter what your strategy for evaluation, it is important to use this information. In the case of an ongoing program, you may want to have periodic reviews and modify the program according to your results. If you are evaluating the effectiveness of a one-time project, this information will be useful for future planning, and can be shared with other chapters that might wish to plan similar events. By posting your evaluations on a web site, you will enable other groups to benefit from your experience and enable them to contact you with their questions.
One of the fastest ways to kill off your new chapter is to stop recruiting. No matter how successful your chapter has been in the past, if no one takes over, it will die. So always solicit new students and present them with new ideas. If your chapter is not attracting as much interest as you would like, you need to find the reason and amend the situation. It could be as simple as lack of publicity. One of the best ways to insure long-term participation is to provide your members with opportunities to be leaders as well as followers. By distributing responsibility throughout the membership, you ensure that members feel ‘ownership’ of the projects in which they participate, increase the level of chapter participation, and build a cadre of enthusiastic student leaders for next year’s chapter. It is a good idea to hold an organizational meeting within three weeks after your fist event. Everyone should be invited to this meeting in which you and the project heads work out the details of the individual projects.
Staying in touch with graduated members
At the very least, maintain a contacts database and keep graduated members up to date on chapter activities. You may wish to solicit the input of past members, especially those who have particular interests or areas of expertise. Try to organize events periodically that may be more amenable to graduate schedules (such that if they are still in the community, they may be able to attend). At a minimum, keep them informed by email and/or newsletter. You may also decide to create a chapter ‘advisory board’ that includes graduated members. This will ensure that the wisdom and experience they gained as part of IPPNW contributes to thelong-term planning and sustainability of your chapter.