The Suffolk Journal

Social Justice Summit localizes global issues

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Suffolk University opened an outlet for social justice this weekend, as doors opened early Saturday morning to welcome the masses to the Social Justice Summit of 2018.

Entitled “Community, Care and Accountability,” students and faculty from around Suffolk came together to discuss different topics of social justice issues and how to resolve them.

With topics ranging from race relations to LGBTQ+ concerns, the Summit targeted topics not often discussed in classrooms, as young social justice pioneers eagerly attended session after session.

“We had a large amount of people who were really interested in what we had to say and found things they could take from the Summit to help either their interest in social justice or their current careers paths [by finding] steps they could take to make their own lives more inclusive,” said Diversity Peer Educator  and senior english major Michaela Hallion.

This inclusivity, one that stems from mutual respect for your peers and a want to make everyone feel welcome and wanted was a welcome theme at the Summit.

Due to this drive for inclusion, students of all backgrounds came together to enhance their social justice skills in order to create positive change.

“Suffolk has a lot of open-minded students and when we are given a platform to talk about issues that are important to us, it benefits the whole Suffolk community,” said sophomore philosophy major Gina Maffei.

The Summit welcomed all levels of experience with social justice, from those new to social justice to those who were more advanced.

People can come and hear workshops that are introductory levels for social justice topics or are a little bit more advanced. We provide people who are just getting into social justice work basic ideas we have and want to make people comfortable but we also have the more advanced stuff for people that have been doing social justice work for years. Those well-versed in the concepts of social justice participated in the Summit through their own presentations.

“I think that we had a really great group of students who were excited to listen to the presentations and to experience what we were saying and recognize the value of our workshops,” said Hallion.

The work of the summit helped introduce the idea of localizing issues that could be used on a global scale.

“It would have been cool if someone did a presentation on a social justice issue more local to Boston. I think it would have been nice if there was a more local presentation on a more local issue,” said Maffei in an interview with The Suffolk Journal.

The event featured keynote speaker Chris Crass, aa national activist who looks to motivate people to turn to social justice collaborate and work with others to recognize their privilege and to use said privilege as a way to help those who are not given the same advantage.

Crass spoke to the attendees of the event calling for those with privilege to stand up to those without and not to fall to a culture of hatred.

Suffolk students were not alone at the Summit as students from schools surrounding the Boston area registered and attended the event, “I think it’s great that they are open to the public because it’s cool to have a lot of other students from different schools come [do to] their schools not having something like this,” said Maffei in an interview with the Suffolk Journal.

Despite some in attendance not agreeing with the values shared, there was mutual respect had by all. “While we personally disagree with the views of the Summit, we care deeply about the free exchange of ideas and were curious to listen to and take part in the tendentious workshops,” said Suffolk University’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) president Anthony Dimauro in a statement sent to the Journal on Tuesday night. “We appreciate the devotion showed to protecting the rights of students and the values of free speech and activism.”

Those who worked closely with the Summit considered the event to be a great success.

“We felt like it went over really well and we got all kinds of new information from it,” said Hallion. “Everyone [was] enjoying and learning and that’s what our program was about.”

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Connect with Kaitlin on twitter @Kaitlinhahn_

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Social Justice Summit localizes global issues