- 1 Nominations to Run for the Board of Directors
- 2 List of Nominees
- 2.1 Brendan Ballou, Columbia
- 2.2 Fred Benenson, NYU
- 2.3 Christopher Budnick, Northeastern
- 2.4 Kevin Driscoll, MIT
- 2.5 Christina Ducruet, Brown
- 2.6 Jan Hendrik Grahl, U Florida
- 2.7 Nicholas LaRacuente, Swarthmore
- 2.8 Ben Mazer, Swarthmore College
- 2.9 Hani Morsi, The American University in Cairo
- 2.10 Cameron Parkins, USC
- 2.11 Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
- 2.12 Parker Phinney, Chadwick School
- 2.13 Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Columbia
- 2.14 Karen Rustad, Claremont
- 2.15 Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
- 3 Quick Candidate Statistics
Nominations to Run for the Board of Directors
In order to be a candidate for the board, nominees must either be a current member of an FC chapter or currently serving on the Board.
All nominees must provide a bio and a platform statement by e-mailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bios + platforms are due Sunday, November 4, at 11:59pm Eastern Time.
List of Nominees
(in alphabetical order, by last name)
Brendan Ballou, Columbia
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
Brendan Ballou (that's me!) is a junior at Columbia University (though I'm spending the year at that other English school - Cambridge University), majoring in philosophy. I founded Free Culture @ Columbia, where among other things we:
- Put public domain versions of Columbia's Core Curriculum on 250 flash drives and gave them to students for free. If everyone who received a drive used only 1/3 of the books on them, we would have made $30,000 in textbook savings.
- Built and distributed CULATOR, a modification of the Tor anonimyzation service that ran only on the Columbia campus, thus making it run much more smoothly and quickly. Ron Gejman is now working to build a version that will work on any Internet2 campus
- Ran One Laptop Per Child's New York City Journalism Jam. In three days we built journalism and blogging software for students who will receive the laptops, and tested that software with real students in the area. The product produced may well be included on some of the laptops being sent to third-world countries
This biography sounds suspiciously like a resume, so let me just conclude by saying that I enjoy running, checking my email, and listening to Fleetwood Mac.
The Free Culture movement is stronger for allowing its chapters a high degree of autonomy - one campus can focus on digital art, another on Internet privacy, and so on. But that sort of freedom can make it very hard to start a new chapter - without some set projects or national campaigns, it takes a huge amount of motivation and personal creativity to put together a working chapter. That's why I suggest that the national free culture organization offer at least two national campaigns a year - one for each semester - that new and existing chapters can choose to help with. The topics can be broad, but here are a few suggestions:
- Wireless net neutrality. The right to attach the devices and applications of your choice to a wireless network is a pretty intuitive one for student our age - who hasn't been frustrated that the iPhone is locked to AT&T, or that the coolest cell phone apps are only available in Europe and Japan, where there is greater competition among carriers. I suggest Free Culture, with the help of Washington non-profits like Public Knowledge and the Media Access Project, draft a Petition for Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (PNPRM - not a pretty acronym) to the FCC, which would ask the commission to draft right-to-attach rules and submit them for public comment. If our PNPRM is any good it will help spark a debate within the FCC, online, and in the telecom industry. And if we're effective activists within that debate, we might just get a right to attach.
- RIAA survival guide. Probably the most useful thing we can do for college students at a national level is connect people who are getting 'pre-litigation notices' from the RIAA with organizations like EFF. I suggest we combine existing resources to build an RIAA survival guide which new chapters can distribute to students. That way we'll be helping campuses and building new chapters' reputations.
- Network neutrality. Free Press is continuing to do great work on this issue, and they're integrating it into a host of larger broadband deployment goals - rural Internet access, affordability, etc. We should consider sponsoring joint events on campuses with Free Press to not only build awareness of the issue, but to associate it with the youth vote. That way, congressmen and women may be more hesitant to vote against net neutrality legislation if they think it will cost them the 18-28 vote.
I don't want to change the organization into a top-down sort of structure - that just wouldn't do any good, and it wouldn't be much fun either. However, I think offering regular national campaigns that chapters can opt into will give existing chapters new momentum and new chapters the energy they need to get started.
Fred Benenson, NYU
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
While studying Philosophy and Computer Science, Fred co-founded the Free Culture @ NYU chapter of FreeCulture.org, an international student movement and currently serves on the board. After graduating from NYU in 2005, he interned at Creative Commons in San Francisco and then moved back to NYC to stage the first-of-their-kind DRM protests, and organize several other related public events, all receiving national media attention. Since the summer of 2006 Fred has been the Creative Commons Cultural Fellow and worked with organizations, schools, and major art institutions in New York to help shape their copyright policies through the use of Creative Commons licenses. He regularly travels the country to speak on these topics and is currently working on his masters at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program in the Tisch School of the Arts. He spends his spare time with the Rubik's cube, bicycles, and cameras.
I've watched FreeCulture.org grow from a student e-mail list into a semi-functional organization with many chapters and even more interested and motivated students. It's spectacular to see how issues that I once thought were obscure and hard to define have become increasingly important and relevant to students around the world.
I still think the organization needs to find its place in helping chapters and the movement grow, because right now the action is on individual campuses. Developing a movement of dedicated and committed volunteers who are willing to sacrifice their time and effort for our ideals will increasingly be central to our success, and I think I have the skills and experience to identify those people.
I'm interested in supporting people who do good work on their campuses and make a difference with the people they know and the world they live in. I'm not interested in glorified bureaucracies and endless meetings, so don't expect any of that from me. Whether or not we hire someone full time to help us with this goal is secondary to the need for us to establish many functional chapters with good people working for them. From my time and experience as a free culture activist I know that what counts is getting exposure, doing practical advocacy and connecting with people who may be interested in our cause. I want to share this and help grow our movement into something real that has meaningful connotations for our peers.
Christopher Budnick, Northeastern
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
Kevin Driscoll, MIT
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
Kevin Driscoll is a first year graduate student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. He spent the last three years teaching Computer Science at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Cambridge, MA. There he explored issues of identity management, media production, literacy, hacking, and hip-hop with the consistently brilliant students in grades 6-12. Inspired by a challenging first year in the classroom, Kevin co-founded a non-profit organization called TeachForward (later re-named Developing Curriculum, Inc.) to encourage the sharing and development of high-quality, free learning materials on the web. In addition to his work in education. Kevin is a frequent collaborator with internet-based artist Claire Chanel and a hip-hop dj responsible for Gold Chain and Todo Mundo events.
I am encouraged (though not terribly surprised) to discover that I share priorities with the other nominees; chiefly developing strategies to support new chapters in the U.S. and abroad. With this in mind, the following platform will highlight those areas in which my background prepares me uniquely among the field.
Two questions guide me in this process:
- What does it mean to be a member of SFFC?
- What can be done at the national level to empower members at a local level?
As a national organization built upon the autonomy of local chapters, we need to work hard to create a shared sense of identity. To do this, I would like to first lead the development of an SFFC Archive. This project began in February 2007 with the generation of a Free Culture Timeline but will require the input of every chapter to cover the rich, undocumented history of this movement. It is my hope that such a centralized resource will provide an inspirational foundation for new members and a lasting legacy for existing chapters.
In addition to fostering a sense of history, identity, and mythology, such an archive will serve as a space for sharing materials from one chapter for reuse by another. In this capacity, the national body can act as a broadcasting node for the work happening at each individual chapter. The work that we do is often very time-sensitive and no member should feel that she is reinventing the wheel.
Finally, I am excited by the possibilities of inter-generational work within SFFC. Our K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students provide a diversity of thought and experience rarely found in other student groups. As the organization grows, I want to explore ways in which we can best capitalize on this strength.
Christina Ducruet, Brown
- Nominated by Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
I am a senior at Brown University in Providence, RI. I founded the Brown Free Culture last semester in reaction to the RIAA law suits on Brown's campus and other campuses throughout the country. Last semester we had a launch party to raise money for the students and also sought legal counsel from the EFF to advise students on how to deal with the threat of a lawsuit for illegal file sharing. This fall I coordinated with the Digital Freedom campaign to hold a panel on consumer rights in the digital age and a concert on Brown's campus as a part of the Digital Freedom University Tour. In addition to launching Brown's chapter, I have also worked closely with the national organization, helping current members of the SFFC board to coordinate volunteer efforts, manage press, and foster relationships with other organizations such as the Digital Freedom Campaign and EDUCAUSE.
I am interested in developing the foundation we provide new chapters in order to better equip them in their first year and to help sustain their initial momentum. I imagine this foundation would consist primarily of nationally coordinated chapter projects, promotional efforts and the establishment of a general guide based on the trial and error of established chapters. These goals presuppose strong communication between the national and the local that I would advocate as a board member. In addition to this inward focus, one of my main priorities would be to nurture relationships with outside organizations who could help SFFC and its chapters. This would involve maintaining current partnerships and actively arranging new ones wherever SFFC could benefit from and bring something to an existing organization. Finally, in keeping with this goal for outside recognition and engagement, is my goal for SFFC to garner more attention from the press in the future through the streamlining of national events, and the distribution of effective event execution methods to chapters so their projects see the light of day and have a lasting impact. I am excited by the potential of SFFC to continue to grow and evolve and see myself playing an active role in this development.
Jan Hendrik Grahl, U Florida
- Nominated by Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
My name is Jan Hendrik Grahl, I'm 23 years old and received my Abitur from the Max-Planck Gymnasium in 2003. I'm currently a senior at the University of Florida for a BA in Economics. I currently am the lead translator for the German documentation for Gentoo Linux. I have been involved in the local Students for Free Culture chapter 'Florida Free Culture' for several semesters and have previously been the Treasurer and am now the President.
If elected I hope to advance the internationalization of Students for Free Culture, specifically Europe, by partnering with established organizations for projects and campaigns, hopefully stirring up continental European students in the latter half of 2008 in person.
Nicholas LaRacuente, Swarthmore
Bio: I am a sophomore at Swarthmore college, split between majors in physics, mathematics and computer science. I am interested in artificial intelligence and information theory, among others. I listen to alternative and electronic rock, experimental, and mashup/bastard pop. My interest in Free Culture started with the Free Software movement, to which I owe many thanks for allowing me to practice programming without access to proprietary tools. I am currently assembling and leading Free Culture Labs, a limb of our organization that will develop software related to our organization's mission.
- Chapters should not have to re-invent the wheel. To supplement the role of the national organization in helping chapters get started, I believe we can learn from past experience. We need a good system to not only store what has been done in the past, but locate it. This does not just mean putting it on a wiki somewhere. We should have a searchable listing of past projects, along with inventories of leftover materials and a page for the most commonly re-used.
- A strong infrastructure will help us keep pace with the growing organization and our national role. We need well-established and user-friendly means of assigning sub-projects and reminding people of what they are doing and how. IRC chats and emails have served us in the past, but we could use a more organized distribution system. I will continue the efforts to increase organizational effectiveness, including the appointment of a paid coordinator and establishment of the core team. I believe that we can also benefit from increased use of collaborative technology, such as calendars and ticket tracking, to keep tabs on who is doing what.
- Success requires action. The core team, paid coordinator and infrastructure improvements will help put our ideas into reality. We also must make sure to keep roles and responsibilities of different components under control. This means keeping board meetings to high-level planning and letting the core team figure out the specifics. This also means having in place the infrastructure and resources to bring in new volunteers and delegate projects in pieces. We must plan to complete projects before we absolutely require them in order to avoid situations like the website crunch this summer.
Ben Mazer, Swarthmore College
I am a sophomore at Swarthmore studying Biology and Linguistics. My main project with FC has been about democratizing the music-making process. I've been particularly interested in the local and amateur music scene around Philadelphia.
I've used our FC group to open a recording studio that has to date recorded (free of cost) over thirty performances, including student bands and local indie bands. We are also printing CDs and have recently purchased a $4500 media server so all recordings will be available digitally to the campus. We will also be working with the Antenna Alliance out of Harvard FC.
I have also tried to initiate communication with faculty and administration whenever possible. Over the summer I engaged them over the issue of textbook affordability. I relayed various student requests to help increase the efficiency of textbook usage. I received many varied responses from staff, and as a result, we will now be collaborating with the Film and Media Department.
My beliefs about a variety of issues are united by the philosophy that a society with liberal IP laws and access to digital technologies can properly approach almost every social problem: art, science, medicine, political/cultural conflict, engineering, education, etc. My personal working motto for FC has been "revolution through technology."
I've tried to function within our FC chapter using consensus and collaboration. People come into the FC movement with diverse beliefs and goals. A successful movement should allow people independence to work on their various projects (not every programmer is interested in recording bands), but the chapter needs to provide essential support -- ideological, monetary, technological, administrative. Thus, when we need to come together, a non-forceful method of consensus (if implemented even informally) seems to work best. We can find the positions with which we all agree, and in promoting those, feel the FC movement is truly a product and reflection of our personal goals.
Individually I've focused on small, local projects with definite goals. This has personally allowed me to remain motivated, but has had the negative consequence of students at Swarthmore often saying "what does FreeCulture stand for?" I spent less time pushing philosophy and more time with specific projects. But I see the national organization as a good platform for truly articulating our philosophy (and subsequently promoting it). We can produce a more unified message essential for viewing this group as a "movement." Even on supposedly broad philosophical issues, many members may still not agree, which is why I value the chapter-based structure of the organization. Individual chapters are still free to make more personal derivatives of our basic ideology.
What can the National FC organization do to promote a "movement" while still allowing chapter autonomy? I see the organization holding conferences, sending speakers on tour, providing start-up materials, providing templates for ideological papers and flyers, and most importantly, providing advocacy at the national level. The national organization is in a much better position to deal with national legislation, politics, etc. Launching an attack on a bill is often something chapters can unite over. But campaigns like this require the press to be able to easily access "the movement", and a vocal National FC provides this access.
Hani Morsi, The American University in Cairo
Hani Morsi is the founder of the American University in Cairo's chapter of Students for Free Culture. He is currently working on an MA in Economics in International Development. Hani's current research and activism interests are in the realm of open technology and knowledge, social media and technology-driven development projects. When he is not traveling for work (Hani also works as an international student recruiter at AUC) or fun, or grappling with constant research and teaching assistant assignments, Hani enjoys reading voraciously, planning a round-the-world trip he currently doesnâ€™t have the time or money for, and tinkering with new gadgets/technology. In 2006, Hani initiated a pilot project for a community-driven IT hub model in rural areas in Egypt. The project is aimed at producing a manual to enable users to self-replicate the model with low-cost hardware and open-source software. Hani blogs at www.hanimorsi.com and you can contact him at hmorsi AT aucegypt DOT edu
- Add an international perspective to the SFC board: SFC was founded in the United States and the overwhelming majority of its members are US based universities. The mission and goals of SFC, however, are universal and apply globally. Having international representation on the SFC board is, in my opinion, important and necessary in light of what lies ahead in terms of expanding the active member chapter base internationally.
- Diversify the scope of SFCâ€™s goals: By fleshing out the main elements of the core mission and objectives of SCF, and seeing how those can be adopted, applied and even â€œlocalizedâ€ by international chapters in light of the culture, relevant laws and other country-specific givens of potential international chapters.
- Commitment to chapter diversity and outreach: SCF needs to spur the initiation of active chapters. The issue of intellectual property rights and laws, open access and knowledge and relevant activism is often vague and obscure, even for people with direct astake such as those in academia and of creative pursuits. SFC needs to find ways to actively stimulate interest in the aforementioned topics and consequently encourage the formation of new chapters.
Cameron Parkins, USC
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
Cameron is finishing his senior year at University of Southern California, where he is majoring in International Relations (with Honors in Multimedia Scholarship) and minoring in Cinema-Television. As founder of FC.USC, Cameron has, amongst other things, helped set up a variety of panels on free culture related items (ranging from film screenings to discussions with university officials), has waged a constant battle against USC's film-school and its arcane copyright policy (White Paper Policy Recommendation available here - http://imlportfolio.usc.edu/freeculture/?p=34), and has helped in the campaign to challenge USC on its backwards and confusing "free speech policy".
He has studied under copyright-theorist and copyleftist extrodinaire Cory Doctorow and worked for Kirby Dick, director of "This Film is Not Yet Rated". This summer, he interned at Creative Commons where he now is employeed part-time as a Cultural Program Assitant. Besides this, Cameron likes playing/writing/recording music (www.superhumanoids.com - CC licensed of course), reading, cooking, playing basketball, and having a good time in general.
- Core Team and Coordinator:
The need for a restructured "Core Team" and Coordinator are increasingly more apparent as SFFC gathers more and more steam as an organization. Going forward, it is incredibly important to account for the diverse group of voices and opinions within SFFC. People are attracted to SFFC for a variety of different reasons (privacy in a digital age, the changing face of copyright, computer-based art, etc.) and as such, a "Core Team" that represents these varying interests is a must. Similarly, the addition of a coordinator to help with funding, press, administrative tasks, and the like would be a huge leap forward in crystalizing our vision as an organization. We have a central voice based around the very-loose notion of "openness" and it should be the job of the Board, the Core Team, and the Coordinator to successfully link these varying interests together in a coherent fashion.
- Organizational: Increased Communication Between Chapters and Chapter Maintenance
I think that the Board can provide a very necessary and important function in facilitating increased communications between chapters. As other candidates have noted, getting a SFFC chapter started (and maintaining it) is a difficult ordeal, especially in the range of issues a chapter can latch itself onto. In facilitating communication between chapters, I believe the Board can act as a conductor of cross-chapter idea/event exchange. Chapters that are like minded in focus should be placed in direct contact, a task the board can facilitate with relative ease but has yet to do so on a substantive basis. Although broad events and causes also serve an important function (last winter/spring's ATA campaign for example), it is within these more specialized cross-chapter collaborations that the SFFC Board can provide a great service.
- Increased Outreach
My interest in Students for Free Culture has always come more from a cultural, rather than technological, standpoint . My initial ressonance with the issues was primarily with the arts (music specifically) and how new methods of copyright and digital technologies could affect positive creation and consumption therein. While I have an obvious interest in technological debates, it is within the cultural arena that I feel I can provide the most to the SFFC board.
With this context established, I believe that the focus of SFFC up until this point has been more influenced by technological debates than cultural ones. While this was for good reason - the technological debate has helped give SFFC something concrete to build around - I think it is time to actively reach out to include those who we may not readily see as being receptive to the ideas put forth by SFFC. This means business students. This means content creators who aren't initially woo-ed by Creative Commons licences. We are a inward thinking group, and now is the time to begin shifting this focus outwards.
It is from the people who question our assumptions that we have the most to learn. This is not to say that we should waste time and resources in "converting" people. Rather, we must reach out to those who I see as a receptive but skeptical "middle ground". From my experience, there is a large number of people who are not only responsive to the ideas of put forth by SFFC, but who can help push us beyond our cultural subgroup and into culture (globally and locally) at large. Our ideas and opinions are morally sound and essential for our collective future. With this said, if we want to push forth truly substantive change, we will do so is in reaching out to those who are not so easily convinced of our ideals, not by preaching to those already or easily convinced.
Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
Nelson Pavlosky is an 1L at George Mason Law in Arlington, VA. As co-founder of both Students for Free Culture and its first campus chapter, Free Culture Swarthmore, Nelson has been involved in the "free culture" movement since shortly after the term was coined. He made international headlines in 2003 as a plaintiff in OPG v. Diebold, a case which set an important precedent protecting freedom of speech from abuse of copyright law. When he is not engaged in activism, he likes to play guitar, ride his bike, and eat fruit, but not simultaneously.
Why you should vote for me
- I care - As the co-founder of SFC, I care about it and its success to a perhaps unhealthy degree. You will find it difficult to find another person who will be as dedicated to SFC as me, and if you elect me to the board, I will burn the midnight oil to ensure that SFC fulfills its obligations and meets its deadlines.
- I'm good at having a vision, making plans, and then implementing them - I wrote this crafty plan for SFC's future last spring. As you can see, many of the items in that plan have in fact come to pass, partly though my efforts: for example, we are providing our chapters with free blogs and wikis, the website has been revamped, and we have passed the bylaws and we are now having elections for a new board. If elected, I will continue to make ambitious plans and implement them.
- I have lots of experience - Nobody has spent more time on SFC than I have over its lifetime, and nobody else has watched its entire evolution from a local club, to an internet phenomenon, to dozens of campuses around the globe. Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
The organization's future
If I am elected, I will finish the "crafty plan" (which many other candidates have adopted as well, fortunately) and push SFC toward the following goals:
- Democratize decision-making: reboot the Core Team - As laid out in the bylaws, the Core Team will consist of any chapter member who meets the attendance requirements for Core Team meetings, and it will handle most of the day-to-day decisions of the organization, leaving only high-level decisions to the Board of Directors. I will make sure that the Core Team is swiftly established, and that the Board delegates as much of its power to the Core Team as possible.
- Financial independence - Incorporate SFC again, start it down the road to 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit status. Then get SFC grants, make more merch and sell it on our website, and accept donations.
- Revamp the way SFC gets work done - Traditionally, SFC has gotten work done by having a handful of volunteers do everything, and then those overworked volunteers would burn out and vanish, leaving many loose ends behind. To prevent this from happening again in the future, some things need to be centralized, other things need to be decentralized, and everything needs to be well-documented so our successors can easily carry on our work.
- Paid coordinator - Many of the more boring/repetitive/time-intensive tasks would be done best and/or most reliably by someone who is paid to work on SFC, such as shipping care packages to our chapters. I would hire a coordinator part-time ASAP, and work towards having the funds to hire one full-time.
- Crowdsourcing - Some tasks can be broken down and distributed to many people instead of trapping them in a single person's "silo" of work. Part of the Coordinator's job would be to chop up tasks into bite-size junks and coordinate the efforts of our volunteers to accomplish them. By writing down what needs to be done and establishing a "task management system" (or perhaps just to-do lists on the wiki), writing up clear guidelines on how to volunteer and get involved, and establishing methods/technology that allow multiple people to work on a task at the same time (such as using the OTRS help desk ticket system for our e-mail inboxes), we can crowdsource volunteer work to a large extent. All of our volunteers should be on one mailing list, and there should be meetings every two weeks for all of our volunteers to attend. This will make it easy for people to volunteer without joining a particular "team" (such as the web team which maintains our website), encourage cooperation between teams, and make sure that no tasks fall between the cracks because they don't fit any particular team's job description. (This should be separate from the Core Team, so that we don't try to work at the same time that we're making decisions.)
- Institutional memory - When a volunteer (or Coordinator) leaves the organization, it should be easy for new people to pick up the reins. This means keeping track of the contacts that we have made: if our "open access director" has been attending conference calls for an open access working group, they should be blogging important developments and taking notes which they can pass on to a successor. This means developing best-practices documents and checklists for completing a job properly: e.g. when someone writes to us wanting to start a chapter, what information and help do we need to give them? There needs to be some sort of "organizational chart" which makes it clear who you need to talk to when you want to get a given task done, rather than relying entirely on personal knowledge and relationships. Generally people should write things down and pass them on, and make themselves replaceable.
- Provide services to chapters - e.g. webspace, professional-quality SFC propaganda and merch, care packages
- Provide networking opportunities for SFC members - e.g. conferences (with travel funding), metro area meetups, establish an alumni network + an internship/job board, blog aggregator / "Planet"
Parker Phinney, Chadwick School
- Nominated by Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
Parker's first name is actually David, which is weird because everyone calls him Parker. He likes web development, frisbee, writing, photography, atheism, feminism, dadism, surrealism, coffee-shop discussions, F(L)OSS (including linux), cc-licensed tunes, and memorizing move sequences that will beat GNU chess (on "easy"). He has a site at madebyparker.com. He started Chadwick School's SFC chapter (yes, I'm still in high school), which has had Nelson Pavlosky come and speak, petitioned for taxpayer access to government-funded research, and held a discussion about "piracy" on national Talk Like A Pirate Day. We're planning to have an open art show by the end of the year.
I've been working closely with the web team and frequent the IRC channel, so i'd like to think i have a good feel for the dynamic of SFC national.
Although I would be strongly opposed to an overall top-down structure for SFC, I'd like to see some more activity at the national level, in order to give chapters more resouces. The recent blog and wiki hosting given to chapters, from national, is a great step. Last year, the ATA National Day of Action went extremely well because the resources necessary for the event were sent down from national, to the chapters, so that they could participate easily, without devoting time and resources to preparation.
I would like to see more events like the ATA NDOA. Perhaps there ought to be a strongly urged suggestion (not a requirement) for chapters to report back to national after having an event--to write up a tutorial and publish posters or other materials to the wiki (this is already done sometimes, to an extent), or even arrange to guide a chapter-wide event. Info about these events could be sent out on the chapters mailing list, and a link could to be added to the wiki sidebar, reading "chapter events," containing the tutorials and materials. This would help give chapters ideas and materials for their own events.
I also think we could use a few more "teams." There ought to be a wiki team to maintain the content on the wiki and on the static pages of the main site. There is already quite a bit of good info on the wiki about starting a chapter and how to hold events, but it's often partitioned or duplicated, difficult to find, and outdated. There could be teams devoted to organizing (annually?) the national events described above. And, of course, we need to get the core team going.
Existing chapters that are going strong will not by any means be disrupted or taken over, but new or struggling chapters will be given a hand by national, and in turn asked (not required) to contribute resources back to national.
Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Columbia
- Nominated by Brendan Ballou, Columbia
Karen Rustad, Claremont
- Nominated by Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
Karen Rustad is a senior Media Studies major at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. She is the founder and president of Free Culture 5C and a current member of the Board of directors. She likes webcomics, indie rock, and blueberries. She dislikes Internet Explorer, security theatre, and stand-up comedy.
The Board needs to put the new bylaws into effect by creating the two other official entities which the bylaws call for: the Coordinator and the Core Team.
Students for Free Culture needs someone--the Coordinator in the bylaws--to handle all the administrivia and help coordinate grassroots volunteer efforts. I strongly believe that this position must be paid--while previously Nelson essentially filled this position, relying on there being a student volunteer willing and able to sacrifice their personal and academic life to make sure that everything that needs to be done gets done is neither sustainable nor realistic. Of course, in order to pay a Coordinator, we need money. Probably the first duty of the Board, working with the Core Team, will therefore be to work on grant applications. Once we have sufficient funds, we can then search for a suitable individual to be our Coordinator.
The Core Team needs to exist much sooner. It is where the meat of Students for Free Culture work--organizing national campaigns, communicating with new chapters, updating our online presence, and so forth--should and will take place. The board should set up a rudimentary schedule, create agendas for the first core meetings, and encourage past and potential volunteers to attend, until the Core Team is up and running. It should also be made board policy that at least one board member attend each Core Team meeting, at least until the Coordinator is hired, to ensure that both branches know what the other is up to.
One priority I have for Students for Free Culture, for the Core Team to carry out, is to create a well-organized, complete collection of project and event packages to assist new chapters. Starting a chapter is hard. Starting a chapter on something as obscure as intellectual property policy is even harder. The central org should, as its number one goal, provide services to chapters in order to lower the barrier to chapter entry and increase the life expectancy of the average SFC chapter. Creating flyer templates, SFC pamphlets, multimedia packages, event checklists, and general advice and information would go a long way toward achieving this goal. Thus, in my interactions with the Core Team as a member of the board, I would encourage the Team to work on this 'activist packet' project.
Elizabeth Stark, Harvard
- Nominated by Nelson Pavlosky, current board member
- Elizabeth is finishing her third year at Harvard Law School, where she has spent the last three years dedicating much of her life to free culture-related issues. Founder of Harvard Free Culture, she has spoken on free culture, organized many related events in Boston and beyond, and collaborated on various SFFC campaigns. She has worked to establish ties with a variety of organizations, including the FSF, PLoS, SPARC, Creative Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, OLPC, and iCommons. Elizabeth also works for the Berkman Center for Internet Society, where she has fostered a key relationship with Harvard FC. She loves learning languages, traveling, and (electronic) music.
(draft, working on getting it below my own word guideline)
- Increase communication and collaboration between chapters
- I propose that we put better measures in place to better enable chapters to communicate with each other about their projects, collaborate on various projects, and find out about what is happening on other campuses. This could be implemented by asking each chapter to briefly report on what they've been doing, providing a platform for chapters to collaborate, nominating a person to facilitate such collaboration, and better utilizing the wiki to share chapter resources.
- Foster new chapters, help pre-existing ones
- As the person who has answered much of the email over the past two years, I often come into contact with people who want to start new chapters. I have seen first hand that people are looking for resources, and believe that it's important that we increase the quality of our materials to get new chapters started. I also think it makes the most sense to have a full-time "coordinator" that works on chapter outreach, as a dedicated person would be the best way to nurture new chapters. As for existing chapters, many of them may also need help, in the form of campaign ideas, collaboration, names of potential speakers, connections, and otherwise. Both the coordinator and the SFFC community can help in this regard.
- Better engage the SFFC community
- Currently, it's hard to know where one fits with regard to getting involved with SFFC, particularly on the national level. I agree that it's a good idea to restart the "core" team, a group of individuals who are able to represent chapters and make decisions on a national level. Ideally, each chapter would have at least one core team member. I also believe it's important not to ask too much of each team member, and that we should seek to effectively "crowdsource" many of the tasks by using the core team.
- Help to internationalize and diversify the SFFC community
- SFFC purports to be a global movement, but so far we've mostly remained within the USA. As someone who has had a good amount of international experience, I think establishing ties among students around the world is extremely important for fostering free culture, and will work to do so. Furthermore, I will work to recruit a more diverse community within SFFC, including reaching out to women, people of color, and people around the world.
- Encourage strategic collaboration with other organizations
- SFFC has some great opportunities to work with organizations in similar fields. I think there are potential opportunities for collaboration that will both help SFFC and other organizations working toward similar goals. If elected, I will seek to foster this kind of collaboration, while also consulting the community to ensure that it's in our best interest.
Quick Candidate Statistics
What do we know about the candidates who have been nominated and who have accepted? How diverse / representative is our lineup of candidates? (This should be moved to the page listing the official candidates once that page is created.)
There are 15 candidates so far. (There are no citations verifying this information, nor am I specifically noting who possesses the characteristics listed below.)
- 4/15 of the candidates are self-nominated
- 4/15 of the candidates have previously served on the board
- 12/15 of the candidates are male
- 3/15 of the candidates are female
- 10/15 of the candidates are from schools in the northeast USA (1 is studying abroad)
- 1/15 of the candidates are from schools in the southeast USA
- 3/15 of the candidates are from schools on the west coast of the USA
- 1/15 of the candidates are from schools outside of the USA
- 13/15 of the candidates are from private schools (1 attends a public university but does not have a chapter there)
- 4/15 of the candidates are graduate students
- 10/15 of the candidates are undergraduate college students
- 1/15 of the candidates is a high school student