Social Justice Committee – (Early) February 2016 Updates

Minutes from the New School Social Justice Committee Meeting


In Attendance: Keisha Davenport-Ramirez (Staff co-chair), Paul Marcus (Faculty co-chair), Susan Mayer (Faculty), Onno DeJong (Faculty), Nicholas Allanach (Staff),Susan Austin (Staff), Cynthia Lawson (Staff), Brita Servaes (Staff), Gail Drakes (Dir. of Social Justice Initiatives), George Fisher (Faculty), Shannon Logan (Staff), Gigi Polo (Faculty), Zsuzsa Feher (Student), Ollin Rodriguez Lopez (Student), Melissa Guerrero (Student)

Not Attending: Warren Spielberg (Faculty), Tamara Oyola Santiago (Staff), Kathleen Briedenbach (Staff), Jasmine Kabera (Student), Tim Marshall (Provost), Masoom Moitra (Student co-chair.) Randolph Mulder (Faculty), Mariana Pizzol (Student)

Guests: Phoebe Allen (Intern at Student Health Services, NYU Student.)



Introductions. (new member Ollin Rodriguez Lopez)

Strategic Leadership – Report Back

Keisha, Cynthia, and Paul met with President Van Zandt and the President’s Chief of Staff, Deborah Bogosian, to provide suggested names (of those who volunteered from the SJC) to potentially serve on the President’s Tasks Force (e.g., Sexual Harassment, Social Justice Training and Supplies and Material Costs.) People on these tasks force have been notified. Those on the tasks force will also be making suggestions to whom else might be appropriate and/or interested in contributing to the task force.

Food Pantry project update

A group of students, faculty, staff (most from the Office of Student Health Services), and members of the Student Senate and Social Justice Comm. have achieved getting $2k more for the emergency food cards fund. The approval of the food pantry is still in discussion with the administration. Brita Servaes was able to find space (on the 12th floor of 6 East 16th Street). Ideally, the Food Pantry will be open and operational by Fall ’16. As of now, the food pantry will be for dry and non-perishable foods.

The President is in support of this project and a budget for the proposal is forthcoming.

Some members of the committee expressed the need to make this food pantry open and operational as soon as realistically possible. Especially, for the “end of the semester, when students are the hungriest.”

The Social Justice Exchange – proposal

Cynthia and Gigi shared with the group a DRAFT proposal of a “Social Justice Exchange” which would be a series of two events throughout the semester (one at the start of the semester and one near the end of the semester). This Social Justice Exchange would be sponsored and hosted by the SJC. We hope this would encourage ongoing partnerships and collaborations across areas and schools. The idea is that these events would encourage students, faculty, and staff to meet and present on the ideas and projects they are working on so as to gain support, meet others doing similar work to collaborate, and to set goals for the coming weeks. Accordingly, the second event in this series would be a report back and presentation of how the projects went and, again, to discuss and plan next steps.

The committee reviewed Cynthia and Gigi’s proposal and discussed some of the concerns about logistics (i.e., should there be alcohol, etc.). We also discussed how we would vet calls for submissions. The group agreed that it should be open to all interested as long as the submissions met the university’s code of conduct, etc.

Members of the SJC who expressed interest will continue to collaborate on this project while working through the details in hopes of making this SJ Exchange a reality.

Organizing our work and communications

Gigi also reviewed with the group the functionality and usage of the Google drive. (i.e, SJC 2016 Working Folder.)

There was also a conversation about the ‘formal and informal’ ways of communicating and getting work done. The group seemed to agree that the Social Justice web pages and blog are great real-estate to maximize. Although these are ‘formal’ channels of communication, they are here for our NS community to use and we should use them. There was also discussion about ensuring the committee also use the appropriate templates and fonts when sending out any potential future communications.

There was also some questions re: the ordering of the links on the NS’s Social Justice web page.

The Communications Working group has volunteered to try and come up with a proposal for these pages.


Some members will be rotating off the SJC at the end of this semester. Since there will be a need to recruit more members, there was discussion but no final decision re: who would be responsible for overseeing and managing the nominations process.

Nick also brought up the point that we should review and update a SJC by-laws document so that future SJC members will not need to be so confused as to the way to effectively sustain a committee.

Space and All-Gender restrooms update

Brita and members of the Space working group have been working with Michael Joy (Dir. of Campus Planning) regarding the all-gender restrooms. There is now a map communicating the locations of the all-gender restrooms on campus. In the future, all-gender bathrooms will be a part of consideration when a new building, or renovation is happening on campus.

Regarding space and accessibility. There are a number of places on campus that are inaccessible to all because of issues inherent to the building’s design and stairways.

There was a question re: the definitions of ‘all-gender restrooms’ (i.e., what constitutes an all-gender restroom? Is there a legal number required for buildings to have? etc.) Brita indicated that this would be items for future reference and consideration and that currently there do not seem to be any laws in place that require all-gender restrooms.

Brita indicated that their meetings have been hopeful and that despite the long process, this change represents an example of ways the committee’s work can enact change in our community.

Part of the ongoing work will be to educate the community about the need for all-gender restrooms, as well as concerns about accessibility for all.

Meeting Schedule

There was an ongoing conversation about the meeting times, and whether, or not meeting once a month on Wednesdays is our only option. It seems like many students are unable to attend because of the Wed. mtg. Ollin volunteered to make a Doodle poll and shared with the group; however, there was no decision made on whether the time should be changed. For now, the committee has decided to keep the Wed. schedule for Spring ’16, but to open up a ‘working group sessions’ for Friday afternoons (if members are available and free to attend.)

WNSR Radio (Social Justice highlights)

Paul has been communicating with students from WNSR radio and would like to highlight some of the projects and social justice concerns students have.

There was no consensus reached on this, but no one seemed to forcefully object to WNSR highlighting Social Justice issues on their radio podcast.

Paul may follow-up with more details about this and/or invite one of the students to a future meeting to discuss more.