MOVE is urging students to be the change


Joseph Caphart talks to a group of students in front of the campanile as part of MOVE. MOVE is a new group on campus created by students to provide motivational talks and a community of support.

Hannah Postlethwait

As Monday night grew dark, a string of yellow Christmas lights lit up the Campanile. About 50 students were gathered in the grass, some with blankets, to hear the speakers of the second ever MOVE Night. 

The night began with words from Joseph Capehart, a national spoken word artist. Capehart spoke to the students in a series of poems that covered both serious and uplifting topics, like domestic violence or the responsibility that comes with being a brother.

The main speaker was Caleb Ellingson, a senior in philosophy at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minn. He made a case from the perspective of evolutionary biology that human beings should care for each other.

Ellingson believes college students have a unique opportunity to be in a community with one another. He came to Iowa State because he believes in MOVE and ideas that are worth spreading.

“What interests me about MOVE is that it’s open enough that no matter where you come from, no matter what world view, what disposition you have, you can value it,” Ellingson said.

MOVE, a new group created by students on campus, has stared a new weekly event. Entitled MOVE Night, the event is a series of motivational speeches that take place every Monday night and is free of cost. For the first three weeks, MOVE Night is meeting at 8 p.m. on the grass in front of the Campanile. The event is short as well; students can expect speeches to last about 20 minutes.

Jean Carlos Diaz, senior in management, is the founder and director of MOVE, and was MOVE Night’s inaugural speaker last Monday.

“We’re a movement of students who matter,” Diaz said. “We’re a movement of Christians and Atheists, of people who are black and white, of people who are straight and gay. We’re humans … we intricately matter.”

MOVE Night is a series similar to TED Talks. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks, according to its website.

“The people who give motivational speeches aren’t necessarily the most important people, they’re just some of the best speakers,” Diaz said. MOVE guarantees students that every Monday night it will bring in someone to speak who is worth their time.

An important variable of MOVE is the element of anticipation. Diaz confirms that most of its lineup for this year is set, but it isn’t being released.

“We just want you to come and know that it’s going to be good and trust us that we would not put someone on stage that was going to be a bad speaker,” Diaz said.

However, MOVE is more than just a series of talks. Diaz has big plans for the group. He prefers to keep some of the exciting things in store a mystery, but a couple of things are certain.

“It’s a club. It’s a nonprofit. It’s a church. It’s a community,” Diaz said.

MOVE Night’s location, the Campanile, was chosen not just for convenience sake.

“It’s a central location for all students,” Diaz said, adding that “it’s a natural place for community to develop,” something he believes people are meant for.

“We think college is a fantasy world where you can hang out with people and have some of the best relationships ever, but that somehow we have created a society where that doesn’t exist later. We [MOVE] want to change that,” Diaz said.

MOVE also designs web pages for various clients and plans to expand the services MOVE has to offer.

Hosam Abdeltawab, freshman in software engineering, is a web design intern for MOVE. He sees MOVE as more than a job opportunity. Abdeltawab said it’s a good idea, and something he’s excited to be a part of. On top of that, he’s a fan of TED Talks.

“When I started, it was just an internship,” Abdeltawab said. “After a couple of days I got to know all the people on my team better. I think of them as my brothers.”

MOVE is working toward creating a diverse community that can successfully welcome all groups of people. In order to create a message that everyone can understand, Diaz has people on his staff who speak different languages, like English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Hindi. For example, Abdeltawab is fluent in Arabic, and comes to Iowa State from Cairo, Egypt.

Along with a variety of purposes and languages, students can expect a variety of topics. Monday’s discussion was focused on community. In the future, MOVE plans to hash out key societal issues.

The speaker and topic won’t be announced until Monday morning each week, and texting in is the only way to find out what to expect. Students can text 707-413-6683 for a free T-shirt and more information on the talks each Monday. They can also check out MOVE online at ThatMoves.Me.

“What we need is a human group … a group that brings people together for what matters most, that talks about social justice and the environment, and sex, slavery and all the issues that we really care about, but no one’s really talking about,” Diaz said.

Diaz acknowledges there are many important causes in the world. He urges ISU students to either be the generation to talk about the issues, or, better yet, the generation to do something about them.

MOVE has specific ideas for conversation, but they value authenticity. The goal for MOVE is not to have everyone do “their thing.” Diaz said the goal is to have a discussion about what can actually be done.

Austin Sondag, freshman in business, was one of the students who showed up for MOVE’s first week and returned for the conversation Monday. 

“It’s amazing that there’s a group of people that are all gathering because they want to talk about the big issues in our world and just try and make it a better place for everyone,” Sondag said.

Diaz said he hopes students realize that they matter, that they can move and that they can make a difference.

“I don’t think pride is good, but I think understanding that you matter is healthy,” he said.

Diaz believes in students’ ability to make important societal decisions and changes. For example, he thinks they can choose the next president. He believes they can start companies and nonprofits, determine how the environment will be used in the future and change the global and financial systems.

Diaz said, whether they like it or not, ISU students have the power to be a movement.

“I’m just a man. I maybe had the balls to start it, but I’m not going to be the one who picks the next president. We are,” he said.

MOVE has already made an impact. The group didn’t exist a month ago, and it didn’t have a website two weeks ago. As of last night, about 600 people had already texted in for a free T-shirt. 

“‘The Man’ will always have issues with movements. They can’t stop us,” Diaz said.

MOVE offers messages, music and meals. To those still asking questions about what MOVE is or why MOVE matters, Diaz has it simplified:

“Come and see.”