The Oxford Consortium for Human Rights selected nine Quinnipiac University students to attend a virtual program from March 12-28. The program surrounds the issues of racial justice, minority rights and religious freedom.
The undergraduate attendees are Ana Allen, Gabriella Colello and Mahlet Sugebo. Law students Djess Jacques, Alison Fonesca and Kaydeen Maitland and medical students Diane Hassanieh, Whitney Nicols and Pharis Sasa are also attending.
“I hope to increase my understanding of humanitarianism by gaining first-hand information from people within the issues that affect their respective communities,” said Allen, a sophomore political science and psychology double major. “I also hope to properly apply intersectional intervention and conflict resolution on matters of injustice.”
The program is live on Zoom Friday to Sunday for three weeks. There will be presentations and question-and-answer sessions. Students will use the platform GatherTown to discuss and will listen to educators who teach different human rights issues.
Throughout the program, each school prepares a presentation on a related issue to show at the consortium. Allen, Collelo and Sugebo are working on a presentation about period poverty and child care insecurity among women of color in Hamden, Connecticut.
“We hope to display the importance of understanding the tribulations faced by (women of color) and how to help,” Allen said.
Allen, who found out about the opportunity through her political science professors, said she is enjoying the approach of the program as she is an activist and advocate for human rights.
“We have discussed various topics from Black Lives Matter, the negative impacts of colonialism, justice, religious persecution and its relationship to ethnic cleansing,” Allen said.
As a third-year law student, Fonesca also shares a passion for social justice. She said her experience in the program has been positive.
“It has been great to meet students from all across the country who are passionate about social activism like myself,” Fonseca said. “It has also been an incredible opportunity to learn more about topics that I hadn’t yet explored in such detail.”
Fonseca said she will use what she has learned in her future endeavors.
“What I hoped to get out of the program was to learn more about human rights issues globally and how to be more active in progressing change,” Fonseca said. “I am graduating from the law school this May and, as I begin my job hunt, the program has been extremely motivating for me to continue in this field.”
Jacques, a first-year law student, agreed that the consortium teaches valuable lessons.
“Even though a lot of the participants are young undergraduate students, you can really tell that there’s a promising future ahead for a lot of them,” Jacques said. “I think that the program’s organizers recognized this and are taking great care in facilitating a space where we can learn, connect, and grow to become better leaders.”
Jacques said he did not know what to expect from the program but was impressed by the knowledge of the speakers and its inclusivity.
“They’re doing a great job at fostering an environment where students are free to submit their input and share their thoughts (and) ideas on certain issues,” Jacques said.
Hassanieh is a second-year medical student. She said the pandemic has provided her and other medical students with the unique opportunity to participate in the consortium virtually.
“A call for applications to the program was opened up to medical students at Quinnipiac for the first time this year,” Hassanieh said. “This was one of the benefits of the online format, normally medical students wouldn’t be able to attend the in-person consortium due to not being able to take a full week off. The online format allowed two of my peers and I to be the first medical students to participate from Quinnipiac.”
Even in a global pandemic, the Oxford Consortium has given students a way to be the activists of the next generation in their local communities and abroad.
“It is amazing to hear from such passionate academics and advocates about subjects that are extremely important to the subject of human rights that I otherwise would not have gotten exposure to,” Allen said.