Focusing on one of Ithaca College’s new club that gathers for inclusivity and advocating for social change.
On the very first night that the Future’s club met I went to support my dear friends, Juwan Bennett and Michael Taormina, the founders, along with Cal Yohannan, Mike Moritz (will be referred to as Moritz for lack of confusion) and Izzy Goldberger who serve on the executive board.
In all honesty, I didn’t expect many to show up to the first meeting so I had a brief moment of shock when I stepped into the room. They were a brand new club and weren’t even present at the organization fair the week before. Then I turned to a friend; “I’m not surprised. This is literally everyone that hits up Juwan to see what he’s doing on a Friday night.”
As one of the main goals of Futures is getting people to go past the conversation and act, I wondered if the already familiar group dynamic that filled the cramped Friends classroom might hinder the goal of futures.
“Yes and no,” Cal said. “There’s 6,200 of us at IC and if we can access a good chunk of that pool, we’re still missing out on what a lot of our peers feel passionate about. But at the same time I would say, ‘well, I’m surrounding myself with people who actually care, maybe the people who aren’t showing up because they just don’t really feel that strongly about making action.’”
When I sat down with the founders, Juwan wanted to make one message loud and clear: “This is NOT a political club. Repeat: this is NOT a political club.”
“Projects are a tangible way to have a positive effect on our immediate or national environment,” Moritz told me. Currently the group has been segmented into Education, Health, Women’s Rights as Human Rights and Environment.
Starting and getting people involved in a movement is difficult; anyone could and probably would tell you that if you asked, but as one of the most positive and optimistic people you’ll ever meet, Michael, would disagree.
“If you really want to do something, sometimes you just have to focus your energy as hard as possible until you get it,” he told me. Maybe different from those who would eventually attend the first night of Futures, Michael was felt more strange than frustrated about the day post-election night. He told me he had two classes canceled, it looked apocalyptic outside and a professor emailed one of his classes telling the students to “stay safe.”
“I was in the car with Juwan later that day and I was just like, ‘Yeah I feel like people are saying it’s over, but it’s not. It’s just not over…Thinking about it like that means that nothing is going to ever be done.” The two had sprouted the idea of the club for an assignment in the Diversity course they were taking at the time; when the professor rejected it, they decided to take matter into their own hands and create it themselves.
When the boys brought it up to Izzy, she was on board right away. After the election she had her own epiphany; she really didn’t know what was happening in the rest of the country and she was stuck in her liberal bubble. Coming to college Izzy was introduced to people from different political spectrums, forcing her to check her own biases about “the other side,” realizing that there doesn’t need to be two extremes; we can be in the middle.
“We talk about how futures is a platform – I want it to be a platform for years to come. I’m so tired of these social media phenomenons. It’s a false sense of contribution and I don’t want futures to be a false sense of contribution. I want us to do shit and inspire people,” she told me.
As the only woman on the executive board, Izzy’s constantly aware of how she feels being surrounded by other leading men and how it may look to others outside.
“I see it as a problem. If we’re going to be promoting diversity the e-board can’t be a bunch of white men. Even if the white men on our e-board are capable, wonderful, passionate people, [more people] should be there and a part of the conversation,” Izzy said. “As we go forward, I want the e-board to be a more inclusive place.”
“I have a lot of faith in our generation,” Juwan said. “I felt helpless: ‘What do I do?? I’m getting all of this information but how can I use my own experience to shape what I’m going to do about it? I know a lot of people who empathize with that feeling and eventually will make the club much bigger than a club.”
The future of Futures club lies with great and ever-extending hands. With various dreams of 200 weekly members, connecting with other schools to make national chapters and even a charity, the Future’s club still promises to make a difference no matter how small.