by Ashley Mattison
ProActiVe is a student organization that stands for equality for all while raising awareness of the social and racial injustices in the world and on campus. In March of 2013, eleven Georgia Southern University students went to Selma, Alabama for an alternative spring break to work with the Freedom Foundation. Their goal was to learn about the racial and educational inequalities in Selma. During the weeklong trip, activities for the group included learning about Selma and its role in the Civil Rights Movement, helping reconstruct the Tepper’s building RATCo (Random Acts of Theatre Company), and volunteering in low-income schools and neighborhoods.
From the Alternative Spring Break Trip, ProActiVe was born. After returning to Statesboro, the group realized that the same issues in Selma were similar to the same place that they called home. ProActiVe means the daily application of love to heal the sores of a broken heart therefore they knew Statesboro needed changes.
Founding member Janisha Williams said, “We must unlearn the things we were trained to believe. Inequality is choice. We give a voice to those who have lost their voice. We stand for all, we stand for justice, and we stand for love. We are ProActiVe.”
In spring 2014, the founding president Jasmine Carr graduated from Georgia Southern University and I was elected the new president of ProActiVe. As president, I had no idea how to lead an organization but joined ProActiVe after noticing the evident racial divide on the GSU campus. When I applied to the school, I decided it was the right choice after a college fair emphasized the diversity on campus. However, when I came here it looked diverse but people of different races and backgrounds kept to themselves so I wanted to join an organization with open arms for everyone.
On February 27, 2013 I was able to attend Courageous Conversations led by Dr. Breyan Haizlip and Professor Nathan Palmer. The event was the first time that I was able to openly speak about race and being a minority on campus with people similar and different to me. Many people spoke and were honest and at some events people tend to hold back in fear of offending others. Two years later, today we felt the need to have the program again with the same speakers and I am a firm believer in starting the conversation to find solutions for tough issues. ProActiVe and many others feel that there is need to continue the conversations as well. Therefore, for me, I personally feel like this organization has given me hope and motivation to change the world one step at a time starting with Statesboro, Ga. and Georgia Southern University.
New to presidency, I had the help and support from her sister, vice president Lauren Mattison with the guidance from their advisor Michael Baugh. Last year ProActiVe attended a social justice retreat in New Orleans and participated in campaign workshops and a protest to raise the minimum was to $15. Now that that is a new school year, ProActiVe plans on going on more trips to learn how to improve their goals on campus and in Statesboro.
ProActiVe has big plans that include traveling and supporting other organizations such as the following:
My name is Ashley Mattison I am a fifth year senior here at Georgia Southern University from Dacula, Ga but my home is the DMV area. Major is multimedia communications aka broadcast journalism. Public relations is my minor and my dream job is to be the next household face as a news anchor. Here at GSU I am the president of ProActiVe, a Diversity Peer Educator at the MSC, SGA senator, and a host my show Tea Time at WVGS 91.9 The Buzz.