Jamnesty Promotes Petitions and Raises Awareness Through Collaborative Effort

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 Jamnesty raised student awareness of important issues and it featured great music.

Lauren Hutton, Maroon-News Staff

Although this past Friday, December 1, was cold and rainy, many students still made the trek down the hill to attend Amnesty Club’s biggest event of the year, Jamnesty. The humanitarian organization worked with Broad Street Records and La Casa to combine live student performances with raising awareness for human rights and the signing of petitions. From 5 to 7 p.m., students enjoyed free food from Hamilton’s Royal India Grill at Bunche House, live music and the validation of supporting internationally relevant causes.

This year marked the third annual Jamnesty, though the theme of the petitions differed from the past by specifically focusing on LGBTQ+ initiatives.

“We picked petitions from the International Amnesty website. We try to pick something that has happened recently and is similar to our topic, which is LGBTQ rights,” sophomore Vice President Yingying (Chloe) He said. 

The first petition promoted during the event revolved around LGBTQ+ rights for individuals in Egypt, where 76 arrests and 32 prison sentences ranging from six months to six years in jail have occurred this year on charges related to sexual orientation. The petition encouraged students to write to Egyptian representatives asking them to drop charges based solely on perceived sexual orientation, to release current detainees and to support investigations into the torture and mistreatment of prisoners. Currently, the Egyptian parliament is debating a new bill that officially criminalizes same-sex relationships, making the necessity of immediate action apparent. 

A petition advocating for Russia to abolish the “homosexual propaganda law” was also discussed during the event. Russian social activist Evdokia Romanova is currently being charged with spreading “homosexual propaganda” for sharing LGBTQ+ links on her social media accounts. Those who signed the document were using their voice to support the right of individuals to peacefully express themselves and call on the Russian government to drop the 50,000 rouble ($847) fine against Romanova.

First-year and new member of the Amnesty Club Justine Hu discussed the increase in concern and awareness at this year’s Jamnesty, after her shift explaining the petitions to attendees.

“Almost everyone who has signed the petitions actually wants to know what the petitions are about, which is surprising because we thought they might just come for the food. It’s been pretty good. They’ve been asking questions and seem interested which is the entire goal,” Hu said.

While the petition table sat in a room filled with snacks and catered food from Royal India Grill, student musicians filled the building with music throughout the night. From guitar solos to guitar and ukulele duets and songs ranging from Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” to 21 Pilots’ “House of Gold,” the skill of the performers and warmth of the atmosphere remained constants. 

“I think this is a really cool event because it combines human rights with great music … and it creates this really cool community and a really positive message,” junior Diana Costin said.

The performers were all student volunteers from Broad Street Records. With catered food, a borrowed house, volunteer musicians, sound tech individuals and funding from the Broad Street Association, Jamnesty proved an incredibly collaborative effort. 

“We’ve been trying to have petition signings on campus for these issues. This is an opportunity to get everyone together and really raise awareness for the rights we’ve been trying to support all semester long. We’ve had a lot of people come, and I think people are having a good time,” Amnesty Club president junior Rachel Keirstead said. 

Ultimately, over three pages of signatures were collected for the two petitions, which was the main goal of the event. 

“I like that this is put on by students for other students and it builds a sense of community here but also shows that we, here at Colgate, care about other communities. The petitions that we sign aren’t affecting our community; they’re affecting people on the other half of the world. It’s a nice thing to see,” junior Oneida Shushe said at the end of the night. 

Contact Lauren Hutton at [email protected]