By Nathan Wise ’21
The Brophy/Xavier Advocacy Club has expanded its community-building efforts online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the uncertainty of the pandemic brought about difficulties to continue its collaborative efforts of raising awareness in marginalized communities, the student-led group created an Instagram account to resume its advocacy efforts digitally.
Biplove Baral ’21, tasked with sharing posts on Instagram, explained how the club has continued fulfilling some of its fundamental goals through its Instagram account.
“We want to promote this idea of our club being more of an equitable and inclusive place for all students, regardless if they go to Brophy or Xavier, and we’re trying to promote that message on our Instagram,” Baral said.
As far as specific posts on Instagram, “increasing our outreach in the community” has remained a top priority in posting content on the account, Baral said.
He mentioned a specific example of a post on the Instagram account of how the Advocacy Club brought together different faith leaders from across the valley to gather their insights about the Black Lives Matter movement. This was encapsulated in a near twenty-minute long Instagram TV post on the account, where faith leaders spoke about their religion and the centrality of racial equality in their faith.
The posts allowed members of the Brophy and Xavier community, who previously may not have seen the effects of dialogue and conversation on campus, to witness the posts the Advocacy Club was sharing, another key to spreading awareness.
“As [events] came along in the news and we felt that there was a sense of urgency, that’s when we would meet to come up with the posts,” said Xavier senior Abril Valenzuela ’21, who shares the same tasks with Baral.
The Instagram account has amassed more than 175 followers in about six months, a growth that shows “people want to get involved but sometimes they can’t make the meetings,” Valenzuela said. Advocacy Club has always met Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7 A.M., and despite the hybrid learning, they are still meeting twice a week during 8th period.
Mr. Victor Cervantes ’09, current co-moderator of the club, has a digital marketing background prior to returning to Brophy, where social media was a strong aspect of what he did. His background offers a unique perspective into the evolving Instagram account, which he hopes will remain a focal point of the club’s awareness.
“[I’m] really hoping the students think about social media as a tool for large, mass communication rather than just one to one,” Victor said.
Victor said the process of creating the Instagram account was in response to the pandemic and not being with one another. Advocacy Club members collaborated together to find ways to host events that are not in person. He explained how he was an advocate for some of these events including Instagram live-streams, where people can “interface and interact with one another … so you are still community-building.”
The pandemic has made it difficult to organize and discuss the issues facing minority groups face-to-face. Mr. Will Rutt ’08, the other co-moderator of the Advocacy Club, brought up how vital it is to the work that the Advocacy Club does in the community–beyond the awareness social media can provide.
“I think social media only goes so far as to do some basic education, spark interest, but then as a funnel into that personal connection and community with one another,” Mr. Rutt stated.
Social media may not be the best way to do advocacy work, but Mr. Rutt believes “social media is one of the best platforms to invite people into the work and to share the work,” especially in a time when meeting in person is difficult.
He gave credence to the importance of physical and digital advocacy events, which build community more than just an informational post on Instagram can. Relationships can build a community that can, as Mr. Rutt said, “move people to action” to challenge structures that are marginalizing individuals inside of the community.