Social Justice Awareness Day events promote positive change

By: Nick Mason, Contributing Writer

Towson University students and faculty recognized Social Justice Awareness Day April 9 with interactive opportunities to learn about making positive changes on campus.

Traditionally a week-long event, the day was split between multiple workshops and discussion sessions. Organizer and Associate Director of Student Diversity and Development Anee Korme felt that putting everything into one day would offer students a chance to better see each other’s work.

One presentation was focused on “Humans of Towson,” wherein students displayed their own stories about their identities on easels. Presenter Alex Sweeney encouraged the audience to submit their own anonymous personal accounts.  

Student Franklin Nunez’s group talked about different identities and how they make an impact during a presentation and panel discussion entitled, “Unique Intersections.” One of the questions focused on having multiple identities and handling stigmatization.

“We have multiple identities and they intersect – race, sexuality, religion,” Nunez said.
A screening of film “Broken on all Sides,” which revolved around the prison industrial complex and racial incarceration statistics.

Women’s and Gender Studies assistant professor Jameta Barlow played a short clip, entitled “#TU2Ghana,” which featured students who studied abroad in Ghana to have the opportunity to learn feminism in a developing country.

The CommitTUChange presentation involved participants walking around and picking a partner to briefly talk to about the first time they recognized differences in race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion and sexual orientation.

The “I Am More Than…” presentation involved students talking about how it is unhealthy for the body when people do not act like themselves.

During the event, Tripodi said that everyone has insecurities.

“We deal with insecurities every day. How do we build from them?” she asked.

The Education with Representation team displayed the 2015 statistics of TU’s tenure track faculty, showing that out of the 604 professors, 16 identify as Hispanic/Latino, 28 are black, 85 are Asian and 457 are white.

“First-hand knowledge with diversity in faculty gives new perspective to learning,” student panelist Imani Simmons said.

More information on data and statistics is available online through the University’s Office of Institutional Research.

Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Program Coordinator Kursten Pickup and five refugee students – people who have fled their home country out of fear or persecution – participated in a panel discussion.

The panel consisted of people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Bhutan, Palestine and Ethiopia and discussed the challenges they faced in their homeland and the United States.

At home, some of them were exposed to war, lack of opportunity, no electricity, hopelessness, no progression, and bullying from moving between countries.

They said that they have faced language barriers and sometimes feeling like they have no identity, but overall they feel safer and are glad to be here.

Every fall, the Center for Student Diversity sponsors a weekend-long Retreat for Social Justice. Students Jojo Kesforvop, Marra Tripodi and graduate student Carrie Shaw said that the retreat focused on open dialogues, coming to terms with self-identity and insecurities.

“It was a real eye opening experience, I recommend everyone doing it,” Kesforvop said.

“The purpose was to take what we learned from the retreat and tie it in with our own experiences,” student Josephine Hill said.

 

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