Social Justice Committee – March 2016 Updates

Curious about what the university-wide Social Justice Committee is up to? Check out the minutes below from their March meeting. Or better yet, sit in on an upcoming meeting! The next meeting is this Wednesday, April 20th at 3:00 pm in the Baldwin Rivera Boggs Social Justice Hub (outside rooms 513/514 in the University Center).


Minutes from The New School Social Justice Committee Meeting


In Attendance: Keisha Davenport-Ramirez (Staff co-chair), Paul Marcus (faculty co-chair) Shannon Logan (Staff), Warren Spielberg (Faculty), Brita Servaes (Staff), Gigi Polo (Faculty), Tamara Oyola Santiago (Staff), Cynthia Lawson (Staff), Nicholas Allanach (Staff), Onno DeJong (Faculty), Susan Austin (Staff)

Not Attending: George Fisher (Faculty), Susan Mayer (Faculty), Randolph Mulder (Faculty), Tim Marshall (Provost), Gail Drakes (Staff/SJI), Kathleen Breidenbach (Staff), Melissa Guerrero (Student), Ollin Rodriguez Lopez (Student), Jasveen Sarna (Student), Masoom Moitra (Student co-chair), Mariana Pizzol (Student), Jasmine Kabera (Student), Zsuzsa Feher (Student).

Guest: Lou (Student).


Strategic Leadership – Report Back

Keisha, Masoom, Cynthia, and Paul met with President Van Zandt, Provost Tim Marshall, and the President’s Chief of Staff, Deborah Bogosian to hear more about the President’s task force working groups. The SJC requested a list of the members of these task force working groups. Deborah Bogosian agreed to send a list of the working group membership before our next meeting.

The working groups are

  • Task Force on Social Justice Training (which is chaired by Gail Drakes, Dir. of Social Justice Initiatives.)
  • The Task Force on Housing and Food Security (this group formed on its own.)
  • The Task Force on Student Cost of Supplies (no timeline given)
  • The Task Force on the Sexual Misconduct Policy will be giving a report-back on April 15th.)

The SJC would like to know who is on these groups. It is the SJC’s hope that higher admin are a part of these task force working groups.

All task force working groups are constituted of a mix of students, faculty, and staff.

How are these task force working groups being supported, or funded, if at all?


Future Proposals / Organizing

From the strategic leadership meetings, the SJC has learned that it is better for our committee to be solutions-oriented. Having proposals to present to the Administration (that have been pre-vetted for feedback and approval by the Student, Faculty, and Staff Senates*) seem to be the most effective way to potentially give our work some much-needed traction and support.

*President Van Zandt expressed the need for the SJC to work with the respective senates on campus.

There was a discussion re: the best ways to work with these respective senates to maximize our potential.

Instead of communicating ‘the problems’, maybe we need to come up with more proposals that support solutions to the Social Justice concerns we feel strongly about?

What might this Social Justice Proposal process look like? (The Food Pantry project could be a useful model for replicating.) Essentially, before going to the President, we should ensure we have exhausted all options.

The Social Justice Committee is committed to proposing and developing sustainable solutions to issues that affect our community. We do not want a quick fix that goes away in a year – we want our work to sustain.

When considering these proposals, it is important to ensure part of these proposals take into account the need for sustainability (e.g., will there be funds? Who will do the work? Etc.)


Food and Housing Security

The Food and Housing Security working group has been working with the administration. It was suggested that this working group continue to request the administration to assist those doing this work through official offices (e.g., how can we get housing involved? How can we get development involved? How can grants be found and promoted to students? Why isn’t someone being assigned to officially look into this? Having working groups of volunteer faculty, students, and staff is not a sustainable model for Social Justice.)

In regards to students and housing, the SJC questions what can realistically be achieved? (e.g., gentrification, costs of living in NYC – these are large issues and context is essential. )

The SJC is coming up with solutions, with a lot of labor on our part, but what work is the administration and university doing to support this work?

Those on the SJC approach proposals, initiatives, and working groups from a ‘Social Justice framework’; accordingly, there are doubts and concerns that the university administration and central offices are not going to consider these items of concern through the same Social Justice perspective and awareness.

Ideally, we are asking for a commitment from the university re: housing security to acknowledge these concerns, and to begin developing plans for housing education in NYC. Is there emergency housing? What are some resources available to students? This is an issue that should be worked through the USS and supported by the SJC.

Discussion about lack of student involvement on the SJC.

It is proposed that the Food and Housing Security group will now cc: the SJC co-chairs on future communications.


Student Cost of Supplies

Kevin McQueen and Paul Marcus presented a proposal for a student run co-op. Susan Austin is also working on this project.

Paul will email the paper to the SJC.

Susan will share the proposal re: costs of supplies for Parsons, and re: the costs of each class.

Institutional Research is going to begin a survey of the costs of education, which will be sent out to faculty.


Shared Capacities

The Social Justice Comm. discussed its concerns with ‘Social Justice’, as an entity within the Shared Capacities, which has been removed.

The response from the Administration (at the Town Hall) is that Social Justice is ‘infused throughout our work, so it shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone capacity.’

Social Justice and Sustainability are issues that the Administration is still considering to incorporate into the capacities.

Ultimately, how can we assess something if it is not present?

Will there be rubrics to measure Social Justice?

The Committee agrees to read through the shared capacities and see where Social Justice is, or is not to then offer up feedback.


Social Justice Exchange

Happening on March 30th from 5-8 p.m.

Posters have been printed and the SJC is working to get the word out.

There is an EventBrite, poster, and folks interested should RSVP.


Social Justice Newsletter

A staffperson makes a proposal for a SJ newsletter. Which can become a way to unite our committee and highlight our work? Various groups could have a designated spot on the SJ newsletter to update the community about their work; however, who is responsible for submitting content? Editing? Updating the community on items re: Social Justice?

Staffperson volunteers to set up a newsletter, template.


“The Changing Face of Harlem

A student, Asma Negash, is requesting a budget for a film screening and discussion with the director of the film. A budget was presented and approved. Group will look at trailer and let Keisha know if we agree.


Student Compensation

There is a proposal to compensate students for their work on the committee.

Why would this group be compensated, if the students are not being compensated in the USS?

If students cannot attend meetings on Wed., they could attend the Friday mtgs. Hourly compensation.

Additional compensation would be the Strategic Leadership Meeting (based on attendance.)

We are compensating students based on attendance.

Who manages the administrative aspect of this?

Who processes the expense reports? Who takes and maintains the attendance?

This proposal will be further considered by the committee.

There is a Vote to compensate students based on attendance (to either the Wednesday OR Friday meetings, but not both), at an hourly wage of $15/hour.

9 in favor, (1 stand aside)

The proposal was approved, and will be enacted to retroactively pay students starting in fall 2015. Keisha will look back and make sure she has attendance tracked for all meetings.


SJC Working Sessions are held on Fridays from 3-4 p.m. (see Masoom’s emails for agenda.)


Student Social Justice Design Competition.

Masoom made a proposal for a Social Justice design competition, which would be taken from the SJC budget and awarded to a student who can develop a design, or project to assist in solving, or alleviating the concerns associated with the problems we have been discussing (e.g., housing, food security, etc.).

The SJC discussed ways this could be achieved.

Some felt like that SJC funds would be better utilized if some of these funds were made into a Social Justice ‘track’ of the New Challenge.

If funds were made available, through this SJ track., the SJC could feed into the New Challenge and help support something already established on campus.

Discussion about the New Challenge (history on how it was developed and some of the positive and negative feedback on this.)

The SJC will consider ways of integrating our work more with the New Challenge.

  • Nick promises to have the bios updated on the SJC page before our next mtg.
  • The Trustee Working Group on Diversity will be at our next SJC mtg. on April 20th.