“How do we build stronger social movements? How do we engage people who may not necessarily know where to start with activism? The Talon is an initiative we see as contributing to these types of projects and answering these questions in a meaningful way.” – Alex Mierke-Zatwarnicki
The Talon, which brands itself as UBC’s new alternative student press, was started this year by a group of 17 undergraduate students from a wide span of social justice groups on campus. In contrast to traditional student presses, they wanted to create a media outlet that was consensus-based and horizontally structured. Since then, it has taken UBC by storm, growing both in popularity amongst students and becoming a vital source of information for the UBC community.
Along with fellow TEDxTT speaker and Talon co-founder Urooba Jamal, Alex Mierke-Zatwarnicki not only wanted to create a new space for alternative media, but create a space where students can have the freedom to start and facilitate critical conversations typically avoided by traditional student presses.
“Critical student media is especially important in a context where youth are becoming increasingly disillusioned by politics. I think activist student media can talk about broader issues in an accessible and introductory way that prevents young people from avoiding questions of social justice,” says Mierke-Zatwarnicki.
Jamal, a 5th-year International Relations student, cites her desire to see a student-driven initiative on campus that could promote inclusivity and accessibility, as well as encourage activism, as inspirations for creating the Talon.
“Being involved with creating The Talon has already allowed me to see how students could shape conversations on campus. It has really made me interested in exploring how alternative media can facilitate activism in a university context,” says Jamal.
Both Jamal and Mierke-Zatwarnicki credit their undergraduate experiences at UBC for shaping their interest in activism and social justice issues. For Urooba, it led her to develop a strong interest in feminism – which she describes as her “gateway drug” to social justice and anti-oppression activism.
Alex also cites her interest in feminism as a major influence in her life, noting that her introduction to political socialization led her to think critically about the views she held about herself and the world.
Through their TEDx Terry Talk, Jamal and Mierke-Zatwarnicki hope to inspire the audience to think critically about themselves, their university experience, and the world around them. More importantly, they want to encourage the audience to not underestimate the capacity that students have to make palpable change.