Living in a somewhat sheltered community, it is difficult for Niles West students to understand the severity of the problems that go on all across the country. Social Studies teacher Daniel Kosiba was exposed to this while attending the University of Iowa, setting off what has become an intense career in activism. He has worked for a variety of organizations, and he is strongly motivated to fight against racism, Islamaphobia, gender inequality, and homophobia.
Kosiba first got into activism by campaigning against racism. After leaving the liberal community in which he grew up, Kosiba realized the importance of “white people [helping] organize other white people for the cause of racial justice, as racism is a disease that destroys everyone it touches.”
“I knew that racism was a serious problem growing up, but I didn’t realize how serious a problem it was until I left the diverse and for the most part, liberal, enclave that members of our community live in,” Kosiba said. “Getting involved in anti-racism work in Iowa City, Iowa and getting involved in activism work for the American Indian community on various Indian reservations is what lifted the blinders off of my eyes and helped me see just how pervasive and potent racism still is today in every single one of our nation’s systems of power.”
Taking on the role of a dedicated activist isn’t an easy task. Because of Kosiba’s work, he often spends his weekends fighting for causes he believes in rather than relaxing. He has become extremely committed to making a change in the United States.
“I consider myself a social justice activist. My goal is to do everything in my power to support and protect the rights and freedoms guaranteed to every citizen in our nation by our Constitution and Bill of Rights,” Kosiba said. “Most recently, I have been focusing a great deal on religious freedom and protecting the rights guaranteed to all of our citizens in our Constitution from being violated by racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and/or Islamophobic politicians and lawmakers.”
As part of his social activism, Kosiba is also a co-sponsor of the Muslim Student Association here at Niles West.
Kosiba has worked with a number of students and teachers here at West on activist issues, including choir teacher Matthew Hunter.
“Mr. Kosiba and I participated last year in the Empowering the Diverse Community, a rally fighting against Islamaphobia. It was during the time that the presidency put a hold on immigrants coming into the country. We had a big rally and over a thousand people showed up, and we sang there,” Hunter said. “I brought the choir, and Mr. Kosiba was one of the organizers for it too. So we went and did it, and it was great.”
Kosiba takes pride in having a job that allows him to help shape the minds of the future, and he believes he is incredibly fortunate to do something he loves every single day.
“The main reason I love and care about teaching so much is because I love and care about all of the students I get to teach as human beings. I wake up and come to school every day with a smile because I know I get to teach at a school that supports me and the kind of education our students both deserve and need to be successful in life, regardless of what path they choose after high school. I come to school every day with a smile because I know will be surrounded by brilliant young people who radiate all the beautiful, unquantifiable things I mentioned above. A select few lucky people get to do what they love for a living,” Kosiba said. “Thanks to our students here at Niles West, I get to be one of them.”