Student Members and University Chapters in the US

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About | Student Options | University Chapter | Student Membership

Reporters Without Borders

Founded in 1985, Reporters Without Borders is the largest press freedom organization in the world, with over 130 correspondents across the globe. Reporters Without Borders:

  • Defends journalists and media assistants imprisoned or persecuted for doing their job and exposes the mistreatment and torture of them in many countries.
  • Fights against censorship and laws that undermine press freedom.
  • Provides financial aid each year to journalists or media outlets in danger (to pay for lawyers, medical care and equipment) as well to the families of imprisoned journalists.
  • Works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones.

In some countries, a journalist can be thrown in prison for years for a single offending word or photo. Jailing or killing a journalist removes a vital witness to events and threatens the right of us all to be informed.

In the United States, Reporters Without Borders USA (RSF USA) is a 501(c)(3) organization carrying out the mission to protect and defend journalists working both internationally and in the United States. With an office in Washington, DC, the US team works with the American media, political leaders, non-government groups and the American public to further press freedom.

What options are there for students to become advocates with RSF USA?

Students can work with RSF USA in two ways: you can become a student member and/or you can start an RSF USA university chapter.

What is an RSF USA university chapter?

RSF USA university chapters are membership-based groups that give students the opportunity to raise awareness among their peers of press freedom issues all over the world.

What are the benefits of being involved in an RSF USA university chapter?

As part of the RSF USA university chapter network, members create a formalized structure in which to engage in human rights activities, take part in local and international initiatives, and develop important leadership skills and global experience.

If you are an aspiring journalist, human rights activist, or simply want to raise awareness about press freedom issues in the United States and abroad, getting involved in an official RSF USA chapter can bring direct access to inaccessible knowledge and connections.

Credentials Benefits and Activities:

  • Engage in human rights activities by taking part in local and international initiatives
  • Develop important leadership skills and global experience in a formalized structure
  • Organize at least three main events a year around the five main Reporters Without Borders events:
    • World Press Freedom Index (April/May);
    • World Day Against Cyber Censorship (March 12th);
    • World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd);
    • International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (November 2nd);
    • Reporters Without Borders Prize (December);
    • Or documentary film screenings, mobilization campaigns, petition drives, fundraising events, and area festivals or fairs related to media/journalism with the assistance of Reporters Without Borders USA.

Educational Benefits:

  • RSF USA chapter updates
  • Optional discussion topics for university chapter meetings
  • Films to screen as they become available for RSF USA
  • Potential speakers
  • Practical information for student journalists such as legislation for journalists in the US, tips on cyber security issues, etc.

How can you start a University chapter of Reporters Without Borders USA at your school?


If at least 5 student members of RSF USA are currently enrolled at your University and want to raise press freedom issues and create an RSF USA chapter, submit an application packet with an action plan to our DC office at [email protected].

In your plan of action, explain why you want to create a chapter, what issues/areas of the world are you most interested in, how you will be able to spread the word about press freedom and engage fellow students and the community, and what professors/staff (if any) will be involved in your chapter.

You should get necessary administrative approval from your university, including faculty support if needed.

Application packet needs to include:

  • Action plan (2 pages max)
  • Confirmation that your university does not require approval for new student groups or acknowledgement that you are working on approval with your university (acceptance as an RSF USA university chapter will be contingent on university acceptance if this is the case)
  • A copy of your bylaws (you can use the template we provide here) can be scanned and emailed to [email protected] or can be mailed to: Reporters Without Borders, PO Box 34032, Washington, DC 20005

If your submission is accepted, you will receive your accreditation and some helpful materials (posters, map, postcards, etc) to officially launch the chapter in your university.

What is expected of you once we are recognized as a university chapter of RSF USA?

The three basic ingredients to a successful chapter are leadership, programs, and membership. Nothing effective will happen without officers who lead and provide membership with programs and activities through which they can realize their own goals and aspirations.

We encourage you to organize at least three main events a year to raise awareness of press freedom issues. These events could also be good opportunities to raise funds for Reporters Without Borders. You should send the funds raised to our DC office, which will be able to send fiscal receipts to the American donors.

We request that you send us an annual activity report (2 pages max with pictures of events) at the end of the year.

RSF USA looks forward to assisting you in your exciting and worthy adventure! Contact [email protected] to register your new chapter.

Which universities have an RSF USA university chapter?

  • Indiana University
  • George Washington University
  • Carleton University
  • Syracuse University
  • UNC Asheville

Can I become a student member of RSF USA without starting a chapter?

You can become a student member of RSF USA without joining a university chapter. By emailing us your intent to join from your school account you can enjoy these great benefits to help you become a better advocate for press freedom around the world:

  • Personal membership certificate
  • Monthly newsletter with international on-the-ground report and US events, job announcements and networking opportunities
  • Advocacy toolkit including a printable World Press Freedom Map, worldwide analyses detailing Freedom of the Press violations around the world, and regional analyses
  • Exclusive invitation to RSF USA events across the United States