WKU students form campus organization to address local human rights issues

Amnesty International President Christina Tomas shows organization members postcards made to be sent to Senator Mitch McConnell. Tomas was approached about founding AIWKU and fulfilling its president role last year.

Brody Rexing

Amnesty International WKU held its first meeting on Thursday to discuss goals regarding human rights issues in Bowling Green. This is the first iteration of an Amnesty International organized at WKU in several years.

AIWKU has already found a domestic problem to tackle: the vote against Bowling Green’s Fairness Ordinance. The ordinance, first introduced in 2017, would prevent workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual preference or identity. It was brought to vote in April of this year but did not pass city commission. AIWKU said it hopes to change this, but they have yet to formulate a plan for doing so.

Amnesty International is a global movement founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson in London, England, according to its official website. The group started as a British non-governmental organization and has more than 7 million members worldwide. 

AI  is currently the world’s largest grassroots human rights syndication, and it now has a chapter here on campus, according to the website.

“The purpose or mission of the organization shall be to protect people where justice, freedom, dignity or truth is denied,” according to AIWKU’s constitution.

President Christina Tomas, a junior, said wants to take inspiration from what AI has been doing globally for over half a decade and solve amnesty problems closer to home.

“It’s about standing up and speaking up for people who can’t stand up for themselves,” Tomas said to the group.

Tomas said she hopes to raise awareness about issues like international education and reproductive rights both on and off campus. She wants to allow all students an opportunity to make a difference — without having to necessarily be a member of AIWKU.

Tomas was “late to get the ball rolling” on setting up and announcing AIWKU, but is hopeful for the group’s growth in the coming months. She will meet area AIUSA coordinator Anthony Goodwin for plans on moving forward this Friday.

Tomas’ sister Laura Tomas, a freshman, was named AIWKU’s vice president at the first meeting. No other positions were filled, but will be voted upon amongst the group in the coming days.

The schedule is not finite, but the group’s next meeting will be on Oct. 7. The organization encourages students to come to these meetings to learn more about Amnesty International, their objectives and how to join.

News reporter Brody Rexing can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].