Students STAND up for a good cause

The STAND organization is a prime example of carrying out the Vincentian mission of St. John’s. It all started thanks to one person and has now snowballed into an organization committed to change.

Mark Hanis, a Swarthmore College graduate and the president and founder of the Genocide Intervention Network was the started STAND in 2005.

In 2007, Ramya Sekaran, a St. John’s University student, saw Hanis in Central Park speaking about the injustices taking place not only in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma and decided to start a branch.

STAND’s mission is to inform people about genocide throughout the world. Dhrutika Vansia, the current president of STAND, originally from Africa, continues to work toward improving the situation there by discovering innovative ways to gain new members.

“We are trying to offer more incentives and try to change the aspect of the events,” she said. “We are still helping, but we are making sure that people come by entertaining them.”

“And if it touches their hearts then they will come again.”

This year, STAND will host numerous fundraisers such as Perform for Peace and a mini lecture series informing students about genocide.

Perform for Peace will take place Oct. 9 in the Little Theatre. Students and faculty alike will sing, dance and act in the hope of raising funds to provide relief in Darfur and Burma.

“Earnings from the event will be used to provide women with escorts to receive firewood, so the likelihood of being raped decreases and for villagers in Burma to receive radios in order to alert the adjacent village of trouble,” said Christine Chalifox, the organization’s former president.

A mini lecture series Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 will serve to alert students about the situation in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma.

Chalifax said the group hopes their efforts will help lead to increasing global equality.

“Why is one African life less than that of an American? It should have the same respect,” said Chalifox.

STAND’s next meeting will be Thursday Oct. 1 in St. John’s Hall room 215 during common hour.