Progressive Alliance writes vision statement, naming six values

Rani Gupta

Progressive Alliance has created a vision statement to structure the organization and state the principles of the year-old group.

The alliance holds bi-weekly meetings designed to facilitate collaboration between activist student groups, including Mayfest, Women’s Coalition and Students for Environmental and Ecological Development.

“If you’re going to have a group and have members in that group, you have to have something that says what that group stands for,” said McCormick sophomore and member Jay Goyal. Many members of the alliance supported Goyal’s failed bid for Associated Student Government president.

The statement, sent out to the alliance’s listserv in March, names six values that the groups in the alliance should share: economic justice, education, environmental awareness, respect for human diversity and self-determination.

“There was a big debate about whether to have watered-down ideals to appeal to a larger base or stronger ideals to appeal to a smaller base,” Goyal said. “I think we have a good compromise.”

The alliance hopes to have a membership list within the year. Currently 130 people are on its listserv. To become formal members, each group in the alliance needs three members to sign the vision statement.

Members say the alliance was designed in part so groups could co-sponsor events and prevent groups from scheduling similar events on the same day.

“Before Progressive Alliance was formed, there were separate groups with different approaches, but a lot of crossover,” said Music junior Jeremy Thal, who wrote the statement.

The alliance does not hold its own events or issue opinions, but it allows groups with similar goals to collaborate on platforms and events.

“It’s not like a government where you join and it tells you what to do,” Thal said. “It’s actually the opposite … like a loose collection of nation-states.”

Alliance members also said that the group facilitates positive relationships between groups that meet only during ASG spring funding meetings.

“There was a lot of animosity because, when groups got together, they were fighting for money,” Goyal said.

Thal said groups are pitted against each other for funds. “(They’re) not allowed to communicate in a positive, coalition-building way. In some people’s minds, that should be our primary function.”

The creation of the vision statement comes in the midst of discussion about the direction the alliance should take.

On one hand, Thal said, some members believe the alliance should be a networking group, a sort of “student-group union.” Others want the alliance to be a “leftist activist group.”

“(Right now) it’s neither,” Thal said. “It’s fallen between these two extremes, but there are people trying to pull it in these two directions.”