Writing for Rights

Human Rights Committee establishes Human Rights Journal Project

With contests, events, a bulletin board, and even posters in the bathroom stalls, the Hockaday Human Rights Committee (HRC) knows how to spread awareness about international causes. This year, however, the HRC has decided to take their club one step further. The club plans to publish a journal of human rights issues around the world.

Last summer, club co-president senior Julia and faculty sponsors Elizabeth Smith and Pat Saxon created the idea of the Human Rights Journal as a potential project for this year’s committee. When they initially discussed the idea, Julia, Smith and Saxon were unsure if it was possible to fit their 2010-2011 agenda.

But, at the start of the school year, the HRC members made the journal a top priority.

“We want students to adopt a cause that they are passionate about and learn how to advocate for that cause,” says senior Trishla, Enthoven’s co-president.

After deliberating back and forth on whether to allow contributions from the whole upper school in the journal, the committee decided that written submissions should be limited to only HRC members who fully understand the purpose of both the journal and the club.

This will set an example for next year’s publication, which may be opened up to the rest of the upper school.

Though the club devoted the fall of 2010 to raising money for Pennies for Peace and to the Amnesty Letter Writing Campaign, the rest of the winter, they will concentrate on finishing the journal, HRC’s first formal publication.

“Many colleges and universities publish human rights journals; I am proud of the HRC committee for dreaming big and undertaking this publication,” says Smith.

All 44 girls on the HRC will contribute to the project through writing, photography, or artwork. Each member will work for the cause most important to them, and the journal will be organized according to various issues chosen by the committee.

“We did not limit the content of the journal to any specific cause and instead encouraged the girls on the HRC to write about whatever they were most passionate about and what drew them to the committee in the first place,” Trishla says.

Freshman Kendall, a member of the club, says that the “HRC is really important to me because it is a way for students to actually advocate for change outside our community.”

Kendall wrote a tribute to Dr. Leesa Condry, who performs free fistula surgeries (operations that help inflammation of the digestive tract) to women in the Sierra Leone, a cause that Ernst has been interested in since the beginning of the year.

For the design and publication of the journal, the club enlisted Fourcast editor Kristy for help with layout and final editing. The HRC plans to complete the project right before exams.

Trishla hopes that the journal will eventually evolve into an annual publication that includes written and visual works from the entire upper school. She believes it can help establish the HRC’s increasingly important presence in the school.

According to Ernst, the HRC wants to “spread awareness to members of the Hockaday community and encourage them to take action in support of human rights.” The journal will help accomplish just that.