Student hopes to bring change, OxFam to Lawrence campus

Jennifer Nummerdor

Megan Severson, a junior at Lawrence, has been working with the international humanitarian group OxFam to help bring about changes such as using Free Trade Coffee in the coffee house. (Jason Youngblood)

Most returning students will remember the Free Trade Coffee night at the Underground last year. Free Trade Coffee use was supported by Greenfire, a campus organization focusing on creating an environmentally healthy campus, and OxFam America, an international development and relief agency.The Free Trade Campaign, which includes tea and chocolate as well as coffee, is just one of OxFam’s objectives. They are also “committed to overcoming the staggering facts of world poverty and hunger” through support at the local, national, and international levels.

Megan Severson, a junior at Lawrence, is an active member of OxFam America. This summer she was one of 44 college students chosen to attend the CHANGE Leadership training program in Boston where she learned advocacy skills and how to promote OxFam’s objectives.

This past weekend she was asked to join 30 other students at a conference in D.C. They lobbied representatives to vote against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). This multilateral trade agreement would include 34 nations.

“OxFam is not opposed to trade or globalization,” stated Severson. ” [However,] agreements as they exist allow more benefits to go to already developed countries, increasing the economic gap between rich and poor.”

She hopes to raise the awareness of poverty and hunger at Lawrence. Ideally, the coffee house and union products would all be Fair Trade, including Lawrence apparel that is not made in sweatshops. OxFam has been supported by Lawrence students in previous years, and Severson hopes to continue the work.

Mortar Board, the Volunteer Center, the Model U.N., and OxFam America are sponsoring several Hunger Awareness events during the week of Nov. 17 – 21.

Nov. 18 there will be an “OxFam Fast.” Students are encouraged to donate up to three Downer meals. The money will then be donated to OxFam’s hunger relief efforts. Students are also encouraged, though not expected, to fast that day as a symbolic gesture of concern.

Nov. 20 they will sponsor a Hunger Banquet hosted by Rod Bradley, dean of multi-cultural affairs. This unconventional dinner is open to the entire campus and will demonstrate global demographics of hunger. There will be opportunities to sign up in Downer. The event is free, though donations to the hunger relief effort are appreciated.

More information on OxFam can be found on their website:

Students interested in joining OxFam’s efforts on the Lawrence campus may contact Megan Severson at