By Fergus O’Donoghue
RockSoc, VegSoc and StyleSoc are all set to team up, as an event, aimed at raising awareness on daily problems we face today, hits up universities and colleges all over Ireland in the coming months- starting with NUI Galway.
But what do these three societies have in common, besides having likely enjoyed simultaneous popularity all through the 70s?
In 2014, Suas Educational Development created the 8×8 Festival, with partial funding from Irish Aid. Today, that festival lives on as STAND Festival, run by students and for students. Last year’s STAND Festival focused on gender identity, and in previous years has also dealt with issues such as asylum seeking and the consequences of rising ocean levels on coastal communities.
Lucy Kelly, a 2nd year student of Applied Social Science, is one of four local student coordinators of the event this year. “It’s an outdoor exhibition that will be out at the Concourse from the 23rd -27th of September, and it’s a photography and digital exhibition. It’ll be hard to miss,” said Lucy.
The exhibition will also include works submitted to STAND online, in a competition that ran from Monday September 16th to Friday September 19th, among which a poem, written by another student co–ordinator, will be featured.
“We’re looking at a sustainability talk for students, and how they can be sustainable in daily life- that’s in conjunction with VegSoc, they’ll be doing a vegetarian and vegan potluck on Tuesday. With StyleSoc we’ll be running a fast fashion awareness panel talk on Tuesday or Wednesday as well… And we’re hoping to do an Open Mic with RockSoc on Monday just for people to express what they feel about the environment and climate change.
We didn’t want to overwhelm people with all the doom and gloom of what’s happening [with the environment], so we wanted to make it problem-centred, but also about what you can do as a student to help. The sustainability talk is about what you can do in your everyday life to make your consumption more sustainable, not just in food, but in what you buy every day… For example, it’s completely unsustainable to sell an outfit for €4, or buy a new outfit for every night out,” Lucy added, referring to what is called ‘fast fashion’.
“We’ll be running events through the week,” she explained. “We’re currently working on three different events. There’s not anything concrete at the moment, but we’re nearly there.”
The festival will facilitate 6-week courses on campus around social issues like migration, mixed markets and upcycling. Though practical details have yet to be ironed out with the SU, the planning phase is complete, with the potential presence of an unannounced speaker of interest.
When asked why she decided to help organise the festival this year, Lucy said: “I would say it’s empowering. It empowers you to take action on stuff that you thought was overwhelming, and you couldn’t do anything about. It gives you the opportunity to learn about what the issue actually is and what you can do about it.”
STAND is also set to appear in GMIT at the start of October. This year the festival will end on the 29th of November in Dublin at the National College of Art and Design.