Beth Seagrave (Madison Middle School): I’m Beth Seagrave, and I’m the counselor over at Madison Middle School, which is here in Eugene. It’s off of River Road.
So I’d like to start by telling you a little bit about our school. We have a current enrollment of about 430 students. At the middle school level, we offer several student unions and affinity groups, including Native American Student Union, Latino Student Union, Black Student Union, Brains Are Beautiful (which is our neurodivergent affinity group), and also GSA, which is Genders and Sexualities Alliance, which I advise.
[00:00:41] I also advise a student leadership group called No Place for Hate. This year we have 43 students in 7th and 8th grade who signed up to participate in No Place for Hate. It’s a holistic, schoolwide approach to improving school climate. Students who participate are student leaders who are positive examples to their peers and their adults around them, who want to have their voices amplified by helping to create the school that they want to be in.
[00:01:05] No Place for Hate is collaborative and student-driven, and as a group, we plan three campaigns during each school year. Our members come up with the ideas and as their advisor, I do my best to provide the opportunities to make them happen for them, which is why I’m here today.
[00:01:21] So some examples of campaigns we planned last year are: We planned a schoolwide Valentine’s Day making activity where all students and staff created Valentine’s Day cards for people at three local retirement and assisted living communities. Our students in No Place for Hate delivered them personally, and it was such a wonderful experience for our students as well as for the recipients. This was such a popular, impactful campaign that this year’s students have made it very clear that they want to do it again this year, so that will be one of our campaigns.
[00:01:49] Also last year, our No Place for Hate students collaborated with our GSA event planners to coordinate a schoolwide demonstration for the Day of Silence which is a national student led demonstration where LGBTQIA2S plus students and allies All across the country and the world, , take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools.
[00:02:13] We gained support from the entire school for this campaign, and students choosing to participate took a vow of silence for the entire school day, and it was a very powerful show of unity, connection, and community.
[00:02:25] The final campaign we worked on last year was a school wide coin drive during the month of May. Our No Place for Hate students and GSA event planners collaborated again on this campaign. Our students learned about the Trevor Project and wanted to raise money for that organization. So each week through the month of May, our students went around to each advisory class in the morning and collected the donations and counted all of it by hand.
[00:02:49] We had a schoolwide goal of raising $500 and our final count was $538.17. Our students were so proud of the collective effort by our whole school community, and we donated that money in the month of June, which is Pride Month.
[00:03:05] I give you these examples for context, so you know how driven our student leaders are to make a difference.
[00:03:10] So far this year, we’ve met twice, and the majority of our group discussions have centered around the differences between what a respectful school looks like versus what a disrespectful school looks like. And as a part of that discussion, our students have begun brainstorming ideas for campaigns for this school year.
[00:03:26] This is where the Eugene Human Rights Commission comes in. Our No Place for Hate students learned that December is Universal Human Rights Month. After discussing what it’s all about and why we honor it, our students voted that they would like to coordinate a schoolwide assembly during the month of December to help all of our students learn about Universal Human Rights Month and how to get involved locally here in Eugene. After reviewing our school calendar we think that the date we can make this happen would be Friday, Dec. 15, if that would be possible.
[00:03:58] Our No Place for Hate students will have several planning and collaboration days leading up to this assembly, and we would like to invite members from the Eugene Human Rights Commission to join us and collaborate on planning the assembly, provide some local, real-world information, and share any upcoming events our students could get involved with.
[00:04:15] We believe that this collaboration would align with one of your organizational goals, which is ‘to take a leadership role in fostering respect for social equity, civil rights and human rights in the community by engaging in education, outreach, listening and collaboration.’
[00:04:32] Commissioner Blake Burrell: It’s fantastic and timely. We were just having a discussion earlier about school systems, ways to get engaged. So, I’m certainly in support of this and the date is perfect. We have an event on Dec. 9, which is our International Human Rights Day event that we’re currently organizing. And we’re going to have a panel discussion, so that event might be beneficial for students also to engage in. We’re going to have leaders from the community coming and speaking on a panel. And that might be just a really good opportunity. It’s a public event. So we might share that.
[00:05:03] And yeah, I think that the key themes of that would probably translate really well into the event that you’re putting on. And I think our Human Rights Commission would have a lot to add to that. What’s the best way we can support you?
[00:05:15] Beth Seagrave (Madison Middle School): Our No Place for Hate group meets during the school day. It would be an ask to have them stay after school, but we could certainly request if it would be beneficial for the collaboration.
I would be available in the evenings. And so I could meet with our No Place For Hate members and just take down, you know, what they’re hoping to cover during the assembly. And then I could share it with the commission. So either way we can make it work.
[00:05:43] Fabio Andrade (Office of Equity and Community Engagement): Also, if commissioners are not available to join them during the day, we can have staff support as well.
[00:05:50] Commission Chair Scott Lemons: The Human Rights Commission has been really trying to find any way into the school system as you all are in your own jurisdictions. I wholeheartedly support this… it’s amazing. You said you had close to 50 students out of 650 that are interested in this. That’s a proportion that I don’t think I would have ever seen when I was going to school. So that gives me a lot of hope. And it also shows me that this school is doing something right.
[00:06:12] And I would really like to be a part of this. So, thank you. Thank you for everything you’re doing.
[00:06:19] Commissioner Thomas Hiura: Thank you so much for this amazing presentation. It’s very inspiring for us, I think, to be able to consider it… I love the River Road/Santa Clara area. Sometimes people based on the municipality don’t always feel as included in the city. This is a great opportunity to connect further with that community. And I’d like to move to approve this request.
[00:06:41] Commission Chair Scott Lemons: …So, Vice Chair (Thomas) Hiura had put forward the motion that we approve this request. Is there a second on the table, Commissioner (Demond) Hawkins. All in favor? Raise your hand. Any opposed? All right. The ayes have it. So this request for support is fully and wholeheartedly endorsed. Thank you, Beth.
[00:06:59] Beth Seagrave (Madison Middle School): Thank you all so much. I really appreciate it. The kids, I think, are going to be really excited. They didn’t know that I was coming tonight and so they’ll be really excited to hear. So, thank you.
[00:07:08] Human Rights Commissioners: Thank you. Thank you for everything you’re doing.
[00:07:10] Commissioner Thomas Hiura: I didn’t know about this commission when I was in middle school, you know, so I think they’re ahead of the curve, thanks to you.
[00:07:17] Beth Seagrave (Madison Middle School): One student actually suggested this. I think they come to events, sometimes, an eighth-grade student and they were the ones who suggested it.
[00:07:26] Commissioner Thomas Hiura: Cool.
[00:07:28] Beth Seagrave (Madison Middle School): Thank you very much.
[00:07:29] John Q: A panel discussion is part of the events at the downtown library Dec. 9 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. marking Universal Human Rights Day. And Madison’s No Place For Hate group starts planning its own December event, a school assembly to mark Universal Human Rights Month.