By Alia Wilson
Students congregated under the high brick beams of the University Business Center of California State University Fresno earlier this month, where concerned Californian students debated issues of social, environmental, and reproductive justice.The Campus Progressives Unite (CPU) Conference, which took place Sept. 8 to Sept. 10, is the brainchild of California Planned Parenthood with sponsorship from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Organization for Women California (NOW), Amnesty International, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the California Latinas for Reproductive Justice."[The purpose of CPU] is to address issues faced by students … focused around already active students, [to] have them take their activism to the next level," said Mandy Benson, field director for NOW California.Skill-building workshops focused on issues regarding the media, government surveillance, civil liberties, and technology."I think it’s good for students to get started early in their activism because some things that you strive for can take a whole lifetime and beyond," said Mitchell Moss, a UC Santa Cruz business management and economics major who attended the conference. "A lot of it is a never-ending battle with slow progression."Fresno was purposely chosen as the site of this year’s conference, according to Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Patsy Montgomery, despite its reputation as a socially conservative town."It’s one of the most conservative counties in the valley. [You feel like] you’re in the deep south," Montgomery said.Montgomery felt that Fresno was the perfect location to hold a conference of such significance, where social progression is a struggle. While such movements for social activism take years of work to bear fruit, attendees of the conference were mostly happy with the baby steps they felt were achieved.Mary Lunetta, a field student for the ACLU chapter at UCSC, felt that the event was a success overall, but noted that it could have covered subjects in more depth. "I think it’s really great that there were a lot of collaborative efforts to make this happen," Lunetta said. "There’s nothing like this, being that it was the first meeting of its kind. It was a trial-and-error-type of thing that the organizers could work on and try and improve."The organizers were aware of the infancy of the event, spending the final day of the conference developing plans for campus organizations and activist recruitment.