Interview with Julia Leslie: People of Maine Win Universal Healthcare

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Julia Leslie is a sophomore at Wellesley College potentially majoring in French and Political Science. In her first year, she joined the Wellesley SLAP (student labor action project) chapter. At the time, Wellesley was one of the last college campuses in the nation that still did not compensate student RAs and house presidents, and one of SLAP’s biggest goals was to fix this. After a few years of constant dialogue with administration, this school year, our RAs and HPs are paid – including Leslie herself, who is a RA this year. But, that doesn’t mean SLAP no longer has a purpose. SLAP’s wider goal is to address issues of financial accessibility, encouraging on-campus discussions of class and continuing to work with the administration for things like securing on-campus jobs for work-study students.

Leslie also works with a non-constituted (does not receive funding from the college) on-campus org that aims to provide leadership, communication, and community organization skills training under the model of Harvard professor, Marshall Ganz. Non-constituted orgs are usually not as well known as their college-endorsed counterparts, so this was my first time hearing about it. She is also seeking deeper involvement in Wellesley Raiz, a latinx org that has been a key on-campus presence post-election.

Leslie believes that most people become involved in activist work related to their personal, lived experiences. For her big victory in 2030, she wishes for universal healthcare for all people of Maine, including children and undocumented immigrants. She said she would have perhaps gone to law school before returning to Maine, her home state, which she describes as being very politically divided and currently led by an extremely conservative governor. She also expressed interested in public school education reform.

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About Christina!

Howdy folks!

My name is Christina, and I’m a junior studio art and biology student at Wellesley College. Outside of class time, I research reproductive biology at Whitehead and organize social and educational events for the Chinese Student’s Association and (BC)^2, the biochemistry and biology club. I’m looking forward to learning about more inclusive and varied approaches to activism, especially those with an artistic spin, this semester in the co-design studio!

I was born and raised by my single, working mom in Montgomery County, Maryland – a county known for its wealth, diversity, and high quality of public education. Though MoCo is generally seen as a ‘progressive’ county, many microaggressions toward the growing PoC communities in the area fly under the radar. While being so close to the nation’s capitol made discussions of politics and race common both in and out of the classroom, issues of classism and ableism were often overlooked.

In the past I always felt that activism (as I knew it) took up too many spoons that I was already struggling to spend on being a good student. Though I am usually an active and enthusiastic organizer of events, when it comes to sensitive or personal topics, my confidence in my abilities plummets. I write my thoughts, revise, rewrite, but everything ends up in the bin! My tendency is toward privacy, and I generally err on the side of caution when it comes to social media interactions. However, I feel much more comfortable expressing myself through painting and other traditional fine arts – because of this, I am eager to learn more about ‘artivism’ and to explore what kind of contributions I can make to issues I care about, while remaining true to myself and my limitations.

WAAM/SLAM is a historically significant Wellesley asian & latinx movement I have become aware of recently. About ten years ago, students protested the college and made demands for multicultural resources for asian and latinx students. Eventually, the movement spread out to include latinx sibs, and they were able to move the administration to increase recruitment of minority students, appoint advisors specifically for asian and latinx students, and to expand asian and latinx studies. I am still experiencing the after-effects of WAAM/SLAM today – we just got a new multicultural center, where the asian and latinx advisor’s offices are located. The WAAM/SLAM movement continues to inspire many current on-campus advocacy groups, such as Pan-Asian Council and Raiz.¬†