Oswego State placed first in the ONE Campus Challenge, a friendly competition in which colleges across the nation participate.
ONE, an advocacy group attempting to spread awareness about world poverty, is a product of the Make Poverty History Campaign from the early 2000s, co-founded by U2 musician Bono and Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof. It is a non-partisan grassroots campaigning organization that has over 3.7 million members from around the world, 300 of which are at Oswego State. The organization’s objective is to end extreme poverty, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, by 2030, by focusing on energy, poverty, transparency, food and agricultural issues, HIV/AIDs, and the federal budget, according to ONE at Oswego Chapter President Sara Cooper.
“ONE has a division of its organization which focuses on campus engagement throughout the country and this division is constantly growing,” Cooper said. “One part of the campus engagement portion is asking campuses like ours to perform as many advocacy-oriented actions as possible and the school who does so most creatively and most successfully wins.”
The first of three challenges was focused on using protest songs to get students’ voices heard. Students recorded their voices singing the songs and others took a picture of their favorite lyrics from the songs. The second challenge was focused on energy poverty, people who have disadvantages at night due to lack of electrified areas. ONE at Oswego created the event “Study Under The Stars” for this challenge.
“I would have to say my favorite event for the ONE campus challenge would be for under challenge two when we hosted ‘Study Under the Stars’ to simulate what it would be like to do homework without having daylight or electricity,” Oswego State student Katie Sullivan said. “I feel that it showed just how lucky having a few lights around campus on can be so beneficial and that is just to do homework.”
The group also coordinated smaller events on campus and did in-class presentations and presentations to campus clubs.
“One of our members, Chris Bankard, an RA in Funnelle Hall, held an event on football Sunday where he had food, a Madden competition, and football on the TV and talked about how Cowboys Stadium uses more electricity than the entire country of Liberia,” Cooper said.
In the challenges, students took to Twitter and tweeted to Oswego area Congressional Reps. Dan Maffei and Richard Hanna and wrote letters to advocate for funding toward helping those countries without energy.
“We knew that we needed more support from more students and members of the community, so we joined forces with Students for Global Change and together we hosted our very first ONE event in SUNY Oswego,” ONE public relations manger Yazel Roque-Correa said. “‘Study Under the Stars’ was a two-hour event that the ONE E-board had planned a few weeks in advance. We held it in front of Penfield Library out in the cold, we had the event community service approved, and many showed up to write letters to their congressmen and to learn about the new organization.”
Everything ONE at Oswego State does has to be reported back to ONE staff, and they assign points. Every point is calculated and that is what ranks each university. The more meetings, letters, events and tweets, the more points schools receive, according to Roque-Correa.
In all, Oswego State students sent 102 tweets and 446 handwritten letters to members of Congress, more than any other school in the contest. Oswego State placed ahead of Carthage College, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Iowa, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Virginia and University of Arizona, other schools that placed in the top 10.
“Being a small school we had to work harder than some of the bigger schools, but it paid off,” Oswego State student Devin Storment said. “Being a small school was also an advantage because we are able to mobilize our student body a lot easier, since there is fewer of us. Everyone here at Oswego is so passionate about ONE that we actually beat the ONE Campus Challenge record and are pushing other schools to raise awareness even more.”
Roque-Correa said the group wanted to win and worked extra hard as a member and student partnership.
“We went against some huge universities across the country, but we really concentrated on getting the word out and letting people know about our brand new organization on our campus,” Roque-Correa said. “I want to take this time to thank every student and staff member that wrote letters to their congressmen during this challenge, and to continue supporting the ONE organization on campus.”
As a prize of ONE at Oswego’s triumph, Oswego State, along with the remaining schools in the top 10 ranks, will host the pre-release pre-screening of the Weinstein Company’s movie, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba. The film is already getting Oscar attention. Students will have the opportunity to see the movie before it is released to movie theaters.
“Being able to beat other schools, schools that are much bigger than ours, goes to show that Oswego students are not only dedicated and hard-working, but they can be extremely successful whenever they give a task their all,” Cooper said. “Being able to say we were the number one school for this challenge, and having Lou Borrelli recognize our success on his Facebook page, is really amazing and should make everyone who was a part of our success very proud of themselves and their school.”