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A reply to a student who kept requesting an interview for a class project

Date: August 4, 2007

Hello ******,

I’m sure that you’d understand, but activists do not exist to help you do your homework. Every moment activists spend talking to you (including the time it takes to read your email, think how to respond, and write a response) is a moment that they could be doing something else, most likely something more worthwhile. If you wish to grab attention of activists to your project and have them help you do your homework, you need to make it worthwhile to them: what do activists gain from helping you, or how would it help the work they are doing?

And please don’t just say that your paper could educate your classmates, because it’s not enough that there is some benefit; for it to be worthwhile, the benefit of working with you must exceed that of whatever else activists would be doing if they were not talking to you.

Please also tell your professor (in fact, please forward this email to her or him) that academia must stop exploiting and derailing activists and activist movements. Any scholar or student researching about activist movements (and any community for that matter) need to build equitable relationships with those they study, rather than simply stealing knowledge and insights from them and publishing them for their own professional or academic career.


Emi Koyama

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