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W&L’s Office of Inclusion and Engagement Presents ‘Activism vs. Slacktivism’ At the virtual event, participants will explore how activism takes many forms, why specific actions are labeled as sedentary, and whether these forms of activism help, harm or do not affect the message.

Engaging in activism is recognized as a civil right and freedom in the United States, but some public debate recently has focused on what true activism looks like. Washington and Lee University’s Office of Inclusion and Engagement (OIE) presents a conversation titled “Activism vs. Slacktivism” on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. to discuss this timely issue. 


The virtual event is open to the W&L community, and students, faculty and staff can register for free online at http://bit.ly/actvslack.


“We live in a politically, socially and economically tumultuous time, and everyone should feel empowered to use their voice and advocate for better access and opportunities,” said Dani Roberts, assistant director of OIE. “This program is an introduction to engaging meaningfully by identifying effective methods of activism and ways to avoid crossing into slacktivism.”


In the session, participants will explore how activism takes many forms and why specific actions are passive. Slacktivism is the practice of supporting a political or social cause in a sedentary way, such as by sending an email or signing an online petition. The group will discuss whether these forms of activism help, harm or do not affect the message.


“At the end of this program, participants will be prepared to utilize the knowledge, experience and tools they have gained from the presentation to start advocating for change that is positive, inclusive, active and supportive,” Roberts said. 


Tamara Futrell, dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Student Engagement at W&L, echoes Roberts’ thoughts. “Given the current climate of our country, many people are interested in participating in anti-racist and social justice movements,” she said. “However, people are unaware of the various ways ‘activism’ can be practiced. While marching in protests, petitions, participating in sit-ins and social media campaigns are valued methods, activism can take on other forms. This important event discusses the different forms of activism and allows us to examine the critical ways in which people can practice it.”