Mobilization Tool-kit

Mission

asfa'S Mobilization MISSION

Our mission, in the mobilization committee is to support the Concordia community by providing funding and assistance to community members advocating for causes that will have a positive impact on the lives of ASFA members. Projects we’ve supported include the Climate Strike, Strike Against Unpaid Internships, Opposing Sexual Violence, Opposition to Bill 21 and Actions to Honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirited People. Help us add to our list by reaching out to ASFA for support on your next social justice campaign.

To get support on your next social justice project, email mobilization@asfa.ca

student strike

What is a student strike?

A strike is the strongest political tool that students have. Student strikes are a protest where students collectively  shut down their schools by blocking access to halt all academic activities (attending lectures, handing in assignments, etc.). The goal of a strike is to pressure  their school and/or their government to meet student demands.

In order to elevate climate strikes to create real change, we need to become organized and plan departmental strikes, rather than walkouts. Where walkouts are an individual decision, strikes are a collective action. You’re no longer leaving class as an individual, but working with your classmates to cancel the class in protest of inaction on the climate crisis. The collective nature of strikes is the reason Quebec has been able to bring out hundreds of thousands of students on strike days. Quebec organizes  and uses student power to cancel classes in striking departments. This allows students who were unable to risk leaving class to attend strikes and is an important act of solidarity with your classmates.

Strikes can be as long or short as you want. Your team should start with a one-day strike,  which escalates to 3 days or one week. The ultimate power of the strike is that in showing the administration and the government that we can go on a general unlimited strike if they do not meet our demands.

WHAT IS A GENERAL UNLIMITED STRIKE?

A strike is “general” when all or most departments of a school are on strike and they’re working in coordination with other schools. It becomes “unlimited” when students refuse to resume the semester until their demands are met. It is important to specify that the concept of striking is not limited to university students. This tool can also be used by middle and high schoolers and college students.

WHAT MAKES A GENERAL UNLIMITED STRIKE A THREAT?

A general unlimited strike is basically a high stakes game of chicken with the government. Students pay a lot for tuition, but governments pay more. When we threaten to fail en masse, we threaten to waste millions of government dollars, stall the education system and disrupt the flow of students into the workforce.

Mobilization tool-kit

The goal of this section is to guide ASFA members in organizing an effective campaign for their cause. Here you can find info on how to plan and implement campaigns on campus to further your groups goals, as well as info on where to print posters, hold meetings, and more. This tool kit focuses on mobilizing your MA, but can be applied by non-execs for their campaign purposes.

Organizing your campus group (during COVID)

Slack
We find that this platform does not require having a specific social media account, keeps organizing separate from personal life and allows you to have “channels” for teams and projects. It is useful for all forms of organizing, but organizing remotely can get especially messy.  Join slack here.

Trello A Trello Board can help you organize tasks, see who is working on what, and stay in touch in between calls.

Frequent Calls
Frequent calls will change your life in remote organizing, as it is easy to let time drift and lose motivation, loose track of what folks are working on, and in general feel isolated. Having the meeting chair guarantee a “cap” on the call will make more people feel comfortable attending as they know they will be able to leave after a given time. It is important to recognize that not everyone has the safe experience of this pandemic: do not give 24h notices for meetings. At least 3 days should be the norm if you want your meetings to be accessible to people, and if the calls are aiming at decision making processes, 5 days is a minimum.

Zoom
Zoom is the most popular video conferencing tool for organizers, it performs well and is easy to use. The free version allows you to hold 40 minute meetings, you can get more time by re-clicking the link when your 40 minutes is up.

Organizing your MEMBER ASSOCIATION

Assessing Membership (find your team)
Accessing your membership is an important step in building your team to push your campaign forward. It’s essentially taking stock of who is on your side, who you think could be convinced and who you shouldn’t spend as much of your team's limited time talking to about the campaign. You can asses members on a 1-4 scale:

1. Mobilizers: These people are dedicated to the MA, attend general assemblies, volunteer their time and stay involved through social and academic events.
2. Inactive supporters: These people talk about getting more involved, but haven’t yet. They come to events periodically and feel positively about the MA.
3. Neutral: These people don't have much of an opinion on the MA, they might attend social events for the free beer, but aren’t actively involved in MA activities.
4. Unsupportive: These people don’t participate in the MA and don’t want to be involved in events or campaigns.

Your core team should be made up of mobilizers, the goal of mobilizers will be to mobilize inactive supporters and neutral members. Don’t waste your mobilizers energy on unsupportive members, they probably won’t change their minds. A successful campaign moves as many people as possible into the mobilizer category through productive meetings, fulfilling volunteer opportunities and building a positive community.

Planning and facilitating effective meetings

Keeping mobilization efforts fun and action oriented while giving members real responsibilities is important for maintaining participation and interest. Here are some helpful tips:

- Make sure meetings start and end on time, (don’t wait for late -people).
- Choose shorter and more frequent meetings over long, emotionally draining meetings.
- Have a clear focus and a decision that needs to be made in order to take action.
- Remember, meetings are to make a decision on something the people in the meeting are prepared to act on.
- Plan social time for after meetings to build community and morale. If a team doesn’t feel connected outside of their work, they won't be willing to put in the time to make the big changes you’re organizing toward.  For digital meetings, make time after the meeting to stay online and chat, ask people how they are and mean it, plan games, light-hearted discussion topics to get the conversation rolling.

Find places to meet on and around Concordia's campuses here.

What do tou need for an effective meeting?

Facilitator: This person plans the agenda and runs the meeting. The facilitator can be alternated to avoid power dynamics, however in the meeting this person should be respected and listened to.

Minute keeper: This person records the decisions being made in the meeting and next steps for the group. You can view a template for effective minute keeping here

Timekeeper: This person lets the facilitator know when a discussion is going on longer than the time set in the agenda and keeps things on track.

Mood watcher: This person keeps an eye out for hurt feelings and points out if marginalized voices are being spoken over in the meeting. The mood watcher creates space for members to express how they’re feeling.      

Coalition building

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about”
— Margaret J Wheatley

What is Coalition Building?

Coalitions are built to achieve things we cannot achieve on our own. In student organizing, coalitions between different MAs, campus groups or student groups from other campuses are important to achieving bold goals. The size of your coalition depends on your goals, strategy and the size of your campaign.

What do tou need for an effective meeting?

Facilitator: This person plans the agenda and runs the meeting. The facilitator can be alternated to avoid power dynamics, however in the meeting this person should be respected and listened to.

Minute keeper: This person records the decisions being made in the meeting and next steps for the group. You can view a template for effective minute keeping here

Timekeeper: This person lets the facilitator know when a discussion is going on longer than the time set in the agenda and keeps things on track.

Mood watcher: This person keeps an eye out for hurt feelings and points out if marginalized voices are being spoken over in the meeting. The mood watcher creates space for members to express how they’re feeling.      

How do i build an effective coalition?

1. Brainstorm: Start by holding a coalition brainstorming meeting, where members can discuss who else on campus might be running similar campaigns or have similar goals. Ask members about the other groups they’re involved in.

2. Messaging
: Before reaching out to potential allies, think about what specific messaging would get them on board and think about what kind of questions they might have.

3. Plan a meeting: Next, invite potential coalition members to a meeting. It could be helpful to set up a time and place far in advance to give other groups something solid to commit to. If someone is unable to attend, let them know they’re still welcome to the next meeting. Send them meeting minutes and the information to attend the next meeting.

4. Identify mutual goals: For the first meeting, lead, but don’t dominate. Discuss the goals and interests of different coalition members. What changes do you want to see on campus? In Montreal? Quebec? Canada? You should come out of this meeting with a clear understanding of one anothers goals and whether or not you will be able to work together moving forward. Some groups may not be as helpful as you expected and some may be more helpful.

5. Go to bat for them: Coalitions are built on mutual support, if you expect other groups to mobilize for you, you have to be willing to mobilize for them. This is important or establishing a lasting reciprocal relationship

Build a Member Mobilizer Committee

Once you’ve done the hard work of organizing internally, you’ll need to start dividing work. One important committee to have off the bat is a member mobilizer committee, this group is in charge of getting more people involved in your campaign. Make sure the people chosen to run this committee are willing to put in time each week to further the campaign and organize volunteers. There people are the point of entry for new members, and should be friendly and outgoing with a strong understanding of the issue and why it's important. The member mobilizer committee will run things like tabeling, canvassing, class talks and postering. They’ll also train volunteers on how to do these things.

Internal Coordinator (1-3 people)This person isn’t “in charge”, but is responsible for making sure meetings happen regularly. Their responsibilities include: calling meetings, setting the agenda, making sure people attend, keeping people in the loop on new developments.

Communications (1-5 people)This person creates and posts content to promote your group and encourage new members to join. When strikes or other events are being planned, they’ll make the posters and other promotion materials. This team is also responsible for writing press releases and communicating with student and traditional media.

Clubs / student groups liaison (1-5)This team reaches out to student groups you think would be interested in supporting a strike or other action. They make sure these groups are in the loop on actions and plans and can share communications materials with them to get the word out.

Department or faculty liaison (as many as needed)This team reaches out to student leaders in different faculties and departments to encourage mobilization in those majors. They should focus on easy-to-mobilize majors, where the subject of study aligns with Climate Justice. This varies from school-to school, but some examples of easy to mobilize majors include: Environmental science, geography, fine arts, women studies, history, sociology, etc.

How to structure a campus group?

SNOWFLAKE MODEL FOR ORGANIZING

An effective way to organize campus groups is through the Snowflake model. In this model replaces hierarchical interactions originating from a single person being “in charge”. Instead, many interconnected workgroups, each responsible for an aspect of organizing work together to get things done. Tasks are delegated, and no single person or group functions completely independently. This maximizes collaboration while minimizing oversight and conflict.

WORKING GROUPS

Working groups are created by the larger group to address specific tasks and goals. Anyone is welcome to join any working group they feel they can contribute to, all actions by these groups are reported via regular meetings, which keep all members up-to-speed on the status of projects. Responsibility does not equate to power over others, all benefits or consequences are shared by all members. Someone might be responsible for a task or aspect of organizing, but they’re not “in charge” of anyone else.

BUDDY SYSTEM

Partner people up to make it easy to pass on skills and information to new members. Since all projects should be  group projects, all members are expected to participate in the buddy system by collaborating with one another. This means coordinating activity, reinforcing expectations, and avoiding exclusion or isolation of any members. All work is shared and communicated between multiple members.

Building an active and engaged base

How to keep members engaged?

The most effective way to keep members engaged is to make them feel important and needed. Some ways to do that are:

1. Remind members of any special skills or expertise they have and how that skill is needed.
2. Give people options, maybe someone isn’t down to canvas but is willing to make phone calls or posters.
3. Don’t overload and overwhelm volunteers
4.Don't just give volunteers tasks, demonstrate what you want them to do, ex. practice a canvassing script or class talk with them.
5. Be clear and honest about the time commitment needed from them and respect the amount of time volunteers have told you they can put in.
6. Provide food and drinks when possible and make volunteers feel welcome and supported in organizing spaces.

Canvassing

Your canvassing package should:
A canvassing script, make sure your script includes:

1. State the problem:
Frame the issue and why it should matter to the person you’re talking to
2. Give your solution: What do you want, who do you want it from and why is it important? Ex. Divest Concordia wanted the administration to exchange fossil fuel investments for socially responsible investments.
3.Drive urgency: There’s a lot going on in the world, why should they support your campaign right now?
4. Ask them to take action: What action do you want the person you’re canvasing to take? Make sure you have clear next steps on how they can support you. Consider having tiered actions, there might be people willing to sign a petition or make a small donation, but not willing to come to an event or meeting. Decide what your group needs from people and ask for it.

A FAQ and any relevant information or positions about your group.

Flyers or brochures to hand out to passersby. If you have the budget for it, consider ordering buttons or stickers to hand out as well.

Tabling

Tabling is when you set up a table in a space with high foot traffic and stop passers by to talk to them about your campaign. Below are some tips on how to table effectively:

- Choose somewhere on campus with a lot of foot traffic, you can find a list of where to table on campus here
- Make it look good, banners or posters from your group will make who you are clear and attract interested people to your table. - Bring something to hand out, passers by may be interested but not have time to talk. Make sure to bring flyers, brochures or business cards to hand out to students so they can learn more about your campaign. Buttons are also effective and can be worn by supporters to promote your cause.
- Do not stand behind the table, tabling is basically canvassing with a home-base, use it for breaks and to regroup with other volunteers. Keep in mind that most people won’t just come up to your table. Spend your time walking up to students, giving them flyers and asking them to talk to you about your cause.

Plan your own GA assembly