A PSU student’s guide to advocacy

What’s up, PSU students!? 

My name is Janae Hicks. I’m a grad student in the Speech and Hearing Sciences Department, and I’m excited to share a significant experience tied to our Oregon roots. As part of the core advocacy team, I was honored to attend the signing of Oregon Senate Bill 420, a game-changer for brain injury resources (Check out my website and blog for details on this bill).

The signing occurred in Salem on Sept. 28, 2023, in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office. During the event, Governor Kotek shared a personal story underlining advocacy’s importance. The Governor’s story made me think about the class on stuttering I took at PSU with Dr. Megann McGill. She often says, “Say what you want to say, when you want to say it, without fear or hesitation.” Your voice wields power to drive change in our community and beyond. 

Now, let’s explore practical ways that you can make advocacy happen!

Within your safe spaces:

Initiate open dialogues on important issues by creating a safe space for open discussions with those you love. Share news and articles about your chosen cause, and encourage your loved ones to participate in community service or volunteer activities. 

Click here to explore my personal safe space. 

Social Media and Online Platforms:

Amplify your message on social media—share informative posts, engage in discussions, and raise awareness. Gather support and resources for advocacy by contributing to (and re-posting) online petitions and crowdfunding campaigns. 

PSU student Janae Hicks, far left, celebrates the signing of Oregon Senate Bill 420. (Courtesy of Janae Hicks)

In Government:

Contact elected officials through letters, calls, or emails to express concerns and support for legislation. Consider joining or supporting advocacy organizations aligned with your values.

Remember to exercise your voting power in local and national elections. 

In School Groups:

Join PSU’s diverse student organizations or start your own.

Organize awareness campaigns, panel discussions, or workshops on campus.

Build relationships with faculty who share your interests, gaining valuable guidance. Sidenote: I am a person who stutters, and I also have ADHD and PTSD. Portland State’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides crucial support for advocating with disabilities. They are guiding me on advocating for myself by offering accommodations, guidance, and resources that empower my learning process. Their advocacy efforts ensure equal access to education and opportunities. 

As a PSU student, your voice holds tremendous potential to impact the issues that matter to you and your community. Advocacy is a journey which requires patience. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Stay informed, and passionate by finding like-minded individuals to collaborate with.