Impact: Developing to Support Community Activism#
Key Concepts: Community Organizing, Information Transparency, Oversight, Accountability
Roles: Archivist, Web Developer, Community Activist
Duration: Ongoing since June 2020
This project was born out of a particularly frustrating time to be a student at Carnegie Mellon University, made more difficult by the seemingly endless supply of outrage, energy, and effort that wasn’t being put towards a single, combined effort to effect change. Information gaps ballooned as students heard things privately (when they heard anything at all) from instructors and administrators who couldn’t turn the wheels of bureaucracy fast enough to address issues as fast as they seemed to pop up. Beyond a handful of Facebook groups and the student-run university newspaper, there was no central platform to push for change and improvement at the university.
Enter Demand Change at CMU, a website which crowd-sources primary resource from community members to act as the basis of a discussion hub for issues around Black Lives Matter and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives at Carnegie Mellon. Paired with a Slack workspace of the same name (and accompanied by an accountability tracker, which was later retired when CMU launched their own), the combined effort has reached almost 5,000 unique visitors in its first six months of operation. The sites link to over 40 resources, petitions, open letters, fundraisers, strikes, boycotts, and updates across a variety of issues and academic units.
While the net impact of these efforts on this university remains to be seen, interest in and engagement with the site are, I believe, indicative of larger trends towards increased activism in the CMU community that can be helped and furthered by way of design interventions like this one.