Advocacy & Activism | McCall Center for Civic Engagement
Civic engagement is about working to create positive change for the common good. Advocacy means supporting a cause by communicating your ideas to others—including friends, elected officials, classmates, and the general public—in order to influence thinking and behavior (i.e. changing someone’s opinion on a topic or affecting how they vote). Similarly, nonviolent activism means using tools such as protest, civil disobedience, and grassroots organizing to affect public opinion and decision-makers.
The McCall Center for Civic Engagement is nonpartisan and supports students who engage in advocacy and activism with the resources to do so lawfully, safely, and effectively.
Contact your Elected Officials
Nonpartisan educational websites such as Ballotpedia can use your zip code and/or address to get a complete list of contact information for your elected officials. For smaller local jurisdictions such as Forest Grove, you may have to go directly to the municipal web page to locate your officials’ information. Some government bodies, such as the US House of Representatives, US Senate, and Oregon state legislature also have search engines on their sites to help you find your representatives and follow issues through the legislative process.
Joining with others who share your interests and/or personal identity is one of the most effective ways to create change. If you are interested in a particular cause, seeking out organizations that are already working on that topic is an effective and efficient way to make change. Many such organizations exist in our area, for example:
Social Justice Advocacy
- Coalition of Communities of Color organizes communities of color for collective action to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity.
- Centro Cultural promotes personal growth and empowerment for Washington County communities of color and low income families.
- Western Farm Workers Association works for the rights of farm laborers.
- Basic Rights Oregon advocates for the rights of all GBLTQ+ people.
- NAMI of Washington County stands and Disability Rights Oregon stand in solidarity with those who have mental illness.
- Community Action of Washington County and the Oregon Food Bank advocate for and with people in poverty.
- Washington County Republican Party
- Washington County Democratic Party
- Oregon League of Women Voters
- Indivisible Hillsboro
- The Bus Project
Whether you are interested in health, housing, guns, food, education, or just about anything else, issue-based advocacy organizations often offer opportunities to take individual or collective action. Advocacy organizations are often involved with outreach and awareness-raising among the general public, as well as specific policy issues. This kind of advocacy is a great way to get involved on a local level with big issues that can otherwise feel overwhelming. For example, during legislative lobby days students can join others, get trained, and meet with elected officials to share your perspective. Students can even organize themselves to participate in collective efforts organized by advocacy groups (such as carpooling to a lobby day in Salem).
Because issue advocacy is overtly political, the MCCE does not recommend specific organizations for student involvement. Internet searches are often fruitful to identify such groups—try using multiple key words together such as “education”, “advocacy”, and “Oregon”. Note that the results could include groups with competing stances, so each student should do their own research to find groups that align with their values and opinions. The MCCE can, however, assist you with your search if you need help.
Students at Pacific participate in protests, marches, demonstrations, rallies, or other forms of activism. These actions sometimes take place on campus regarding both campus-based and national issues, sometimes occur in local settings such as a march through downtown or at parks, and sometimes take students into Portland or to other sites for engagement.
Students can and do participate in activism without any formal guidance from the university, as is their right. However, because activism can involve risks (such as arrest or harassment from counter-protesters), the MCCE tries to provide students with information about opportunities for participation when we become aware of them, guide students in what to expect, and offer assistance with logistics if needed, as long as the activist efforts do not run counter to the university mission or common sense legal and safety parameters.