November 2015 update from the Social Justice Committee

There is a lot of renewed energy among this year’s university-wide Social Justice Committee at The New School (SJC). The SJC has elected new faculty and student co-chairs – Paul Marcus and Masoom Moitra (along with the staff co-chair – Keisha Davenport-Ramirez who is continuing her term this year) and continue to have their meetings on the third Wednesday of the month from 3 – 5 pm in the Baldwin Rivera Boggs Social Justice Hub in the UC.

Want to know more about the work that the SJC is doing? Check out the minutes from the November 2015 meeting below, or reach out to the committee directly via email at SJCcommittee@newschool.edu.

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Minutes from Social Justice Committee Meeting — 11.18.15

GENERAL UPDATES

  • Committee now has faculty and student co-chairs: Paul Marcus & Masoom Moitra (respectively). These two representatives will work with the staff co-chair, Keisha Davenport. Co-chairs, along with the Director of Social Justice Initiatives and SJC Provost Office representative, have monthly meetings with the President and Provost.
  • Committee now has rotating facilitators and minute-takers for each meeting. Co-facilitators ideal for each meeting.

PROPOSALS + SPECIFIC UPDATES + DISCUSSION POINTS

  • Student committee member PROPOSES that SJC support an initiative that has been developed by the Caregiver Support Working Group involving more robust childcare at TNS. This particular proposal centers on childcare coverage for official NYC school holidays that could/would be provided by/work in conjunction with Parsons pre-college programming.

General support around the need for more robust childcare measures but committee needs more information on this specific proposal, particularly around Parsons pre-college’s level of interest in the plan and the resourcing implications. Committee member who made proposal will get more detailed information and report back.

  • Committee member UPDATES group on work being done to address student food and housing insecurity.

— Work being done by members of Wellness Team (Health Services) and various members of TNS community (e.g. faculty/staff from Milano, Lang and Parsons).

— Group gaining clarity on: relationship between cafeteria and university; what happens with excess food; donating meals from student meal plans; and possibilities working in partnership with Green Market.

— Concurrent efforts being made around student housing insecurity and homelessness. Exploring options that would involve networking system for homeless students. Lack of space plays a big role in situation.

  • There is a need for data that details how many TNS students face housing and food insecurity. Can SJC support this work?

–Suggestion to do a survey which asks questions specific to these needs. May need to incentivize student participation. Could use Qualtrics platform. Was there specific follow-up around this?

–How can SJC more broadly support efforts being made to address food and housing insecurity at the university?

–Need to look at what other schools (e.g. CUNY, Fresno State) are already doing along these lines. Recent article in The Chronicle addressed related issues.

  • Committee member UPDATES on attending recent low-income student meeting.
    — Questions around students being encouraged to take out additional loans to meet basic needs.
    — Need for clarity regarding loan practices in SFS.
  • DISCUSSION around working groups (i.e. working group framework(s), efficacy, participation, relationship to SJ committee), raises other broader, over-arching issues related to the committee.
  • Student committee member raises issue about the lack of student participation and collaboration with students groups

–Students/student groups (e.g. Students of Color group) on campus are engaged in meaningful action and social justice related efforts. How is/why isn’t SJC partnering with these groups or amplifying their work?

–New School Students/student groups don’t know what SJC does and some are disillusioned with SJC’s lack of efficacy. In some cases students consciously disengaging from SJC.

–Students also hesitant to participate in part because it is without compensation, especially those already taxed by other social justice work.

— Staff committee member brings up that SJC was exploring securing compensation for student participation, and confirms that Part-time Faculty member are additionally compensated for serving on the committee. Checking with staff co-chair (not present at meeting) on where this stands.

— SJC needs to find a way to welcome and partner with students/student groups.

Committee members bring up broader communication issues which contribute to lack of visibility and greater participation in SJC.

— Questions raised: When SJ crises occur and action/response is needed, how do we respond as a group? How do we speak as a collective voice? In general do people know about SJC and what it does? Need to address these issues/concerns.

– Idea put forward to connect with New School radio station. SJC could put out announcements and connect with students via radio station.

– Need for greater social media presence

— Other members raises broader context of SJC’s mission and vision: What is the process by which decisions are made by the group? What are the group by-laws? How does the group connect and work in tandem with SJI and other SJ groups at the university? Does SJC need to focus on a limited number of agenda items? Who is SJC representing? And how do the working groups support (or not) the mission of SJC?

–New committee members have been uncomfortable with the lack of direction in the group and highlight the need to address group governance/structure.

–Suggestion to use working groups differently and assign tasks during the meeting that will be worked on over the following month.

Group members identify three key issues for SJC to clarify:
1. How does the committee function (e.g. structure, by-laws, working groups) and how are decisions made?

2. How does the committee better communicate its stance and work to the university?

3. How does the committee better connect with students and student groups, especially those already engage in social justice organizing?

In order to not duplicate previous work committee should refer to the SJC mission and the blog.

DECISIONS/FOLLOW UP + FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS

  • Last year the committee finished the year with five items to carry into the current year. Need to FOLLOW-UP on how items relate to today’s discussion/this year. Items are:
    o 1. Integrating social justice into New School curricula
    o 2. Advancing training around microaggression
    o 3. Addressing the needs of low-income students
    o 4. Supporting undocumented students
    o 5. Securing staffing for the social justice hub
  • DECISION to post meeting notes on the Social Justice blog after they have been approved by the group, and with anonymous attributions. Now and in the future. This decision was made through exemplifying a process of consensus. (see below.)
  • DECISION to have committee members submit proposals (developed in the workings groups or not) via Google document so that people can comment within the document.

— Items often require feedback sooner than once a month. There is a need for group members to respond via Google doc/email (SJC group) on a regular basis.

  • DECISION to have the Communication working group explore a more interactive website or blog, where the group can post dynamically.
  • DECISION for group to work on mission and structure related issue and report back next month with recommendations.
  • To FOLLOW-UP on the need for increased interaction with other university groups engaged in social justice work:
    –Three committee members will join group addressing student food and housing insecurity.
    –A committee member will reach out to active student groups and begin to engage with them and see how we might collaborate.
    — A committee member will develop a FB page dedicated to SJC.
  • The following were proposed as AGENDA ITEMS for the next meeting:
    — Further definition of what constitutes a proposal
    — Should there be a curriculum working group?