By Stacy Galanis
Photo courtesy of Jamie Daling – the Dark Side of Chocolate Screening, Fall ’11 semester
Aurora University Human Rights Organization, AUHRO, is a new club at AU that focuses on a number of different human rights issues.
“[Because] the Human Rights Organization is completely focused on human justice issues [and] human rights issues, we get to really do some things that could even be considered controversial, I think, with some of the stuff coming up for our Human Rights Awareness Week,” said AUHRO president Jamie Daling. “[The organization] gives the students here an opportunity to get involved with something much much larger than the campus.”
The club, which was created by faculty advisor Jeff Bulanda, came about from Bulanda’s passion and interest in human rights.
“I became the adviser for the Human Rights Organization because advocating for human rights is the central reason I became a social worker. At times, it becomes so overwhelming to look at the poverty, wars, human trafficking, prejudice, etc. that people do not “know where to start” in terms of taking action,” Bulanda said. “Therefore, I see the [AUHRO] as being a platform for students, faculty, staff, and community members to take action on these issues. I maintain an undying optimism that we can achieve a fair, just, and compassionate society.”
Daling, who is also becoming a social worker, is proud about what the organization has achieved and is excited for what it has yet to accomplish.
“My whole goal for this year was to build a foundation for this organization that they can really just take off [from] in the next year and the fact that we’ve gone above and beyond what my expectations have been and what Dr. Bulanda’s expectations have been is amazing,” she said. “The students are the ones that are really pushing it. If you came to a meeting, you’d see that they are so passionate.”
The organization, which is in it’s first year of existence, has already hosted many events and is planning to hold more throughout the semester.
AUHRO has held events such as a screening of the fair trade chocolate movie, “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” and has even sent in a petition filled with 450 signatures to Heresy to ask them to not use children to harvest their coca beans, according to Daling.
Bulanda also commented saying that AUHRO will soon be creating their own website of human rights resources as well.
One of the main events in store for the future include building a Human Rights Awareness Gallery, putting in a proposal to speak at the U.N. in New York, and the Human Rights Awareness Week, which is a huge event, held the week of March 19.
“The fun thing about the Human Rights Awareness Week that’s coming up is that gives me an opportunity to get students excited about publishing, art, writing, marketing, and all of those PR [things]. Because it’s going to be a huge campaign, we’re trying to get students from every discipline to participate,” Daling said.
Though this event will require a lot of man power from other organizations and students, it will be all worth it in the end because it not only bring out awareness to specific issues, but also introduces others to what the organization is all about.
“The Human Rights Awareness Week [is] an opportunity to partner across so many disciplines, organizations, and programs here at the school can participate and really push this initiative for this whole campaign for a week,” Daling commented. “The cool thing is that it puts us on par with schools like UCLA, Harvard, and University of Connecticut. They’ve all done human rights awareness weeks and ours is actually going to be set up similar to theirs. It’s not just that we’re going to have a speaker one day and that’s it. It’s going to be a whole campaign for each day that we have the different topics. I’m really excited about it.”
The organization has two meeting times, the second Tuesday of the month from noon to 1p.m., and (usually) the second Wednesday of the month from 5p.m. to 6p.m., to allow for more students to attend and have a part in all that this club has planned.
The meetings are important, but students that cannot attend can still be a part of the organization.
“The meetings are important but I am willing to work with people that can’t make the meeting times. I’m happy if somebody can make it to a couple events, even to participate, not even to volunteer. I think that’s amazing. Whatever people can give me, I will fit you in,” Daling said.
When asked what she wanted the organization to mean to those who are apart of it, Daling said that she hopes that the members are proud of what the organization is all about.
“What we do here, in Aurora, Illinois, at Aurora university, really can affect and impact the rest of the world. I think we think we’re so contained but we have this amazing ability to make a difference whether it’s making small changes, making a different decision that day, whether it’s to come to a screening or not, I just think there’s just a huge opportunity there,” said Daling. “[It’s] about insight and inspiration and that goes for us to, for the people that are a part of it and that go to meetings, but we hope that we’re able to make a difference on campus specifically but beyond that.”
To learn more about Aurora University’s Human Rights Organization, contact