SPAN group recharged, ready for action


Photo by Pat Gaughan

Ciara Duncan, far left, is the new president of the SPAN organization.

By Jared Bysiek, Staff Writer

After being shut down for a year, the Student Peace Action Network is back in full swing thanks to its current president, freshman Ciara Duncan, and the group has big plans to continue its legacy.

Duncan, who is also the Student Academic Council Representative, stumbled upon the opportunity to bring the club back to life by coincidence when getting involved in Student Government.

“I’ve always felt very passionate about empowering people and using my platform to help them feel like they have a say in the world…” she said. “However, most people didn’t even know my position existed, so I wanted to find a way to connect with people directly. I thought about creating an Activism Club and found out that one had already existed. I emailed the former advisor and learned that it had been shut down due to COVID, and there hadn’t been any moves made to bring it back. I thought, ‘what a perfect opportunity’.”

Duncan was eager to bring the club back, inspired by both her work in Student Government as well as the grassroots movements she learned about in her International Relations course. After working with the club’s former advisor, Pat Gaughan, she was able to get the club back – but it has had its fair share of challenges.

“Because there were no former members to teach me the ropes, besides the former advisor of course, everything else has just been trial and error,” she said. “It’s definitely been stressful, but there are so many people who want this club to succeed that keep me going.”

Despite the problems, she has since had an easy time bringing students on board – thanks to word of mouth, the student spirit at MCC, and the recent club fair.

“I started [by] recruiting the rest of the members of my International Relations Class,” she joked. “Overall, I think people are eager to have a way of speaking out…It seems to me that people are much more open to debating and discussing politics, activism, pop culture, all of that,” she said.

“It’s way different from high school, where everyone wanted to stay hush hush or just didn’t care about those things…So, when I am able to talk to people about the club, usually people are very eager. The club fair was a big success, we got a lot of new members.”

Since its return, the Student Peace Action Network, or SPAN for short, has already made some strong efforts to help the community.

“We’ve had a slow start, just because everything is still very new, but we’ve managed to put together Christmas gift baskets for a group of young adults living in a group home in Chicago, and we donated money to the homeless shelter for Christmas as well,” Duncan said. “We also started a monthly group volunteer session at the Crystal Lake Food Pantry, and we plan to volunteer at more of the pantries in McHenry County as well.”

The club also has big plans for the spring, hoping to aid and inform people in recent events, and bring back traditional SPAN events.

“We have quite a few things planned for this spring! We are working with the school board to host a variety of events showing support for the Ukraine right now. We will also be bringing in a speaker to one of our meetings to host an open discussion on the Russia and Ukraine conflict,” she said. “We’re bringing back Take Back the Night, an MCC event condemning sexual harassment and assault, honoring survivors that has been very popular in the past. We will also be hosting a showing of the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ to the public.”

Though it has been scary for Duncan, she is determined to make sure the club stays and inspires students to feel empowered and make a change.

“I’ve never led a club before, but I want so badly for this club to do well. I want to create a space where people can come together and use their powers for good. I never want people to feel hopeless when it comes to activism,” she said. “It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with these things, to feel small and helpless, and I’ll admit, to a certain degree we are; but there are so many ways to channel this energy to be a force for good, for the world and yourself.”

The Student Peace Action Network always welcomes new members. The club meets every Monday from 3-4 p.m. and in room A242. For further information and help, you can contact the club advisor, Gaughan, at [email protected]