A girl sits in her dorm room tuning her trumpet when a note is passed underneath her door which reads, “stop your stupid noise, if you want to be noisy like all them other Mexicans go somewhere else.”
This true story and many others like it compelled Vanesa Hernandez-Cevallos, sophomore psychology major, and her friend Eimie Vazquez, sophomore sociology major, to start Youth Oppressed and United.
Hernandez-Cevallos serves as the group’s president, Vazquez as the treasurer and Ron Strege, director of Nontraditional Student Services, as the advisor.
Plans for the organization began in the summer of last year with a text exchanged between Vazquez and Hernandez-Cevallos.
This text sent them off and running as the new school year began to create a group focused on activism that was modeled and inspired by a club at their high school.
The activist group strives to be a voice of empowerment for all marginalized groups on campus–whether it be women, people of color, immigrants or the LGBTQ+ community.
While many organizations already exist for marginalized groups around campus, YOU has found its own unique niche. It is not a social group like the Black Student Union or the Latino Student Alliance, nor does it respond to instances of injustice in the way that Inclusivity Committee does.
Instead, YOU members will work to create change before problems arise.
“We’re trying to be more proactive instead of reactive” Hernandez-Cevallos said.
Currently the group is working to get the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point certified as a sanctuary campus by the end of the spring semester.
Sanctuary campuses are any college that adopts policies to protect students who are undocumented immigrants–the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of several campuses around the state which do this.
Strege said the group is necessary because, “some people are tired of talk and they want to see action.”
Vazquez and Hernandez-Cevallos expressed that the biggest struggle they face is reigning in their enthusiasm to focus on one task at a time in order to not spread themselves too thin.
“We’re your voice if you can’t speak,” Vazquez said, “we’re your voice, we stand up for you.”
Those interested in joining can find Youth Oppressed and United on Facebook and SPIN @uwsp.you.