A brief article that outlines a way in which we'd like you to approach student group organising
We don't want you to think of your group as a student group. Student groups and other campus societies might run a few speaker events a semester, put on a few socials, and optimise for CV points.
The work you'll be doing is much more important than this, and thinking of yourself as a 'student group' doesn't put you in the right frame of mind.
On your campus you have an absolutely insane opportunity for having an impact on the world: where else can you find such dense clusters of people with the values, drive, talent, time, and career flexibility to dedicate their careers to tackling the world’s most pressing, difficult, large-scale problems?
We want your mission to be to inspire and engage a whole new generation to take huge and ambitious action to fix the world. We want you to find and recruit the best and most altruistic talent to seriously tackle the world's most pressing issues head-on. This is a huge and worthwhile challenge; this ain't no student group.
We hope you join us in taking this deep responsibility seriously. Here are some shifts in mindset we hope we can inspire you to take:
- Take charge and responsibility: Be proactive, ambitious, and conscientious. There is a lot of value on the table and low hanging fruit to pick; we want you to feel permission to go do the things that need to be done. If you don't do it, who will?
- We'd like you to feel permission to question assumptions and take things from first principles. This starts with throwing out the preconceptions you have that you're just running a 'student group' and doing the things that your predecessors have done.
- We'd also like to give you the permission to demand better from us and the rest of the EA community. If it seems to you that something important isn't being done, don't feel like its not your place to do it yourself or question authority on why it isn't being done.
- Try to really figure things out: Think critically about how we can really do the most good, and then actually do it. Instil this curiosity and drive in your group members.
- We want you to find out the truth about how to do campus EA outreach the best. This task is going to require your careful attention and best thinking skills; but we have chosen you because we think you're up to the task. In the vein of throwing away assumptions, we want you to do fresh and critical thinking about what you need to do.
- Take ideas (and their implications) seriously: EA is filled with crucial considerations that drastically change how important certain things are to focus on. Lots of important ideas probably seem very weird and unintuitive. It's important that you build up a group culture of taking ideas seriously and inspiring others to really take serious action in accordance with their convictions.
- It can be easy for students who you expose to these ideas to not take them seriously enough to change their actions. And so we think it's important that you build up a group culture of taking the ideas seriously and changing your actions in accordance with what you believe.
- We think the best way to do this is in showing how you and other core members change their actions based on EA ideas and generally being really dedicated to this. Don't shy away from showing how seriously these ideas affect you life. That's what's going to make the students around you also take the ideas seriously.
- Discussing AI timelines or whether insects are sentient might seem like just an interesting discussion to have. Especially at universities where students are used to having interesting discussions that aren't too serious and don't really affect their life. But really these ideas have crazy implications on the state of the world and the stakes of our actions. You don't need to pretend it's not intense and crazy, because it really is.