The Amnesty International Club at USD is bringing a new outlook on human rights to campus.
“Our main mission is to advocate human rights across the world,” said junior Aidan Goetzinger, Amnesty International Club president. “What we focus on is we decide to settle on one international (campaign) and one local campaign.”
The club meets every other Thursday, but they do not have a set meeting space as they mainly look for any available rooms in the MUC or Delzell.
“The basic idea is to spread awareness for human rights violations around the world and help anyone you can,” Goetzinger said.
Members also meet to discuss possible fundraisers or different campaigns to bring awareness to USD. Goetzinger said the most members the club has had is 17, but numbers vary each week.
The club focuses on one international and one local campaign every semester. This semester the campaigns they are working on are the Write for Rights campaign internationally and simply helping out people in Vermillion locally.
Goetzinger said the Write for Rights campaign is a project where members will write letters to different government officials around the world to free people who have been mistreated.
Member and first-year Rose McLaughlin said the club focuses on many different international human rights violations such as Syrian refugees, Saudi Arabia mistreatment of various peoples and El Salvador’s abortion law.
“There are a lot of people out there that need a lot of help,” McLaughlin said. “It is a political organization, so we do things that are political.”
Goetzinger said the club is making a difference in people’s lives, and is broadening their perspectives about global issues.
“Being that we are in South Dakota we’re pretty secluded from most of the stuff,” Goetzinger said. “A lot of people are oblivious to what’s actually going on in the world.”
Goestzinger said that while many students can look passed issues of human rights violations and “turn a blind eye” toward them, Amnesty International is looking to change that.
“This gives you an opportunity to actually help fix those issues,” sophomore Gabby Metzger said. “Besides just getting that education, you can also provide an avenue for being part of the solution.”
Metzenger admires the dynamics of the club, and how it is more than just a resume-builder because it gets the word out about people suffering and being wrongly prosecuted or mistreated.
“I feel like this club gives you the opportunity to invest yourself in something and actually make a difference,” Metzenger said.
McLaughlin said that on a college campus people are lucky to be able to even attend school, and she feels students sometimes take that for granted and do not try to see the issues that take place in other countries.
“Everybody on this campus is so blessed to have opportunities that a lot of people in other countries don’t have right now as we speak,” McLaughlin said.
The club has been working on getting their voice out and promoting the club.
“We’ve been trying to build our number slowly and steadily,” Goetzinger said. “It’s not necessarily about numbers, but getting people to actually care about these issues.”