united states student association

Operation Mockingbird was a secret campaign by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence media. Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles, it was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA. The organization recruited leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA’s views, and funded some student and cultural organizations, and magazines as fronts. As it developed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns, in addition to activities by other operating units of the CIA. In addition to earlier exposés of CIA activities in foreign affairs, in 1966 Ramparts magazine published an article revealing that the National Student Association was funded by the CIA. The United States Congress investigated, and published its report in 1976. Other accounts were also published. The media operation was first called Mockingbird in Deborah Davis’s 1979 book, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and her Washington Post Empire.[1]
USSA National Student Congress

By Tamara Mustafa

    The USSA Annual National Student Congress took place on August 10th - August 14th at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. USSA or The United States Student Association is the oldest and largest national student association dedicated to building student power through organizing and developing grassroots campus bases, campaigns, and leadership that aim at dismantling systems of oppression around the nation.

   I had the pleasure of traveling to the conference in Orlando with a delegation of ten special and strong student delegates from UCR who shared my strong passion for social justice and activism. The experience overall was both challenging and very eye-opening for a group of students coming from California, where the political and social atmosphere is both very unique and different than that of any other state. As a diverse group of young students, we immediately noticed an occasional sense of hostility and judgement from the stares and remarks that we faced by some individuals that were clearly aimed at us to establish a feeling of intimidation within our group. However, despite the culture shock and the unfamiliarity of the attitudes in Orlando,  our group was determined to be nothing but courageous and vocal about the issues we so passionately felt needed to be both addressed and organized around.

   The diversity present at the conference was so truly beautiful and empowering to witness and to be a part of. The beauty of that diversity came with the diversity of the struggles and challenges that everyone at the conference shared so honestly and courageously in the numerous workshops and activities that we participated in. It is one thing to read and study about the huge amount of pain and suffering people go through as a result of injustice and inequality everywhere, but it is so much more powerful to be in a setting where you personally exchange your journeys and stories to inspire and create unity and solidarity.

   Throughout the five days I spent at the conference, I spoke with people that identify with communities I have been relatively unfamiliar with such as the LGBTQ, undocumented, and South Asian communities. The best lesson I gained from the conference is that we cannot begin to organize campaigns and projects to help those that are struggling until we reach a clear understanding of their unique identities and what it is like to experience their daily lives. Going out into an unfamiliar place and having significant interactions with people from unfamiliar backgrounds is the most essential part of creating change and better lives for those around us.