SJW2013: The Beginning
Social Justice Week was born in 2012-2013 when some faculty, staff, and students started sharing their interest in different Social Justice related issues. Through our conversations, we found a strong, shared need to bring those issues to campus, expecting that they would bring greater awareness to our community, and open up venues for collaborative work to put an end to these issues. In March 2013, we put together the first Social Justice Week, an event that offered the community the possibility to engage at a more practical level with the idea of Social Justice. That first Social Justice Week came out of the collaboration of faculty from different departments, staff members from different offices, and diverse students. We were able to take over campus for a week and bring to campus, in a variety of ways, our Social Justice concerns.
Thus, during Social Justice Week, we brought to campus theatre plays, documentaries (and Q&A sessions with their directors and producers), workshops for safe allies and on Intersectionality, and speakers on immigration, incarcerated populations, LGBTQ rights, environmental issues, education, and activism. Sakowich Center and McQuade Library were visually covered with student artwork, photography, and poster sessions that informed our community and provoked questions and conversations. We even managed to bring Merrimack College to Lawrence, as a group of faculty, staff, and students met with members of different community organizations at the Everett Mills for a memorable conversation. For a full list of events, click on the program:
Both the experience of working together in a democratic, horizontal manner, as well as the effect SJW had on the community, made it a success, and we all committed to bring it back as an annual event. While 2014 saw, instead, a wonderful Social Justice Month organized by the graduate students from the Community Engagement program, a new Organizing Committee came together to bring back the original, open event in 2015. And this time, it was here to stay.