Social Justice Committee – October 2016 Updates

Curious about what the university-wide Social Justice Committee is up to? Check out the minutes below from their October 2016 meeting…

Social Justice Committee

Wednesday, 19 October, 2016

Meeting began at 3:10pm in Rm 510, W. 12th St. Gigi and Ana Maria were co-facilitators.


Students:  Mitchell Bradford, Zsuzsa Feher, David Howe, Marianna Luna, Ana Maria Reichenbach, Ollin Rodriguez-Lopez, Carmela Wilkins

Faculty:  Onno DeJong, George Fisher, Paul Marcus, Randolph Mulder, Gigi Polo (co-chair)

Staff:  Nicholas Allanach, Susan Austin (co-co-chair), Kathleen Breidenbach Gail Drakes (Director of Social Justice Initiatives), Rachel Knopf Shey, Cynthia Lawson, Tamara Oyola-Santiago (co-co-chair), Chasity Wilson

Consideration of minutes: We approved the minutes from September and discussed how to proceed with approval of the minutes in the future. After each meeting, draft minutes will be circulated via Google Docs to the committee.  People will be given one week to make edits on a Google doc, after which they will be approved.  We agree that approved minutes will be posted on the blog.  Tamara will edit the September minutes to remove unnecessary names before posting.

Community Agreements:   We broke into two groups to discuss how we will conduct our meetings and work well as a group.  Our discussions are supported by a handout of “Examples of Community Agreements and Ground Rules” prepared by a co-chair.  When we gathered again as a larger group, representatives from the two groups wrote comments on the whiteboard.  Discussion followed, with topics including “positive framing”, “empty seat”(this means to literally leave a seat empty for anyone who may want to sit in on our meetings), “impact vs. intent”, “holding each other accountable”, “read community agreements work”,” “acknowledging messiness of social justice. The final community agreements will be written up and shared with the group.

Proposal on membership:  A member presented a proposal on committee membership that would result in a reduction in the number of members from each of the three constituent areas and the number of permanent seats.  Initial discussion followed which raised larger questions about function, mission, and effectiveness.  We agreed full consideration of the proposal requires a “larger conversation” but reached  no further agreement for now.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to consensus decision making.

Explanation of SJC structure/history. Member gave an update of the information that is being compiled.

Student co-chairs.  Student reported that there are currently four student members.  The students will meet further to decide on a co-chair, or possibly shared co-chairs.

Setting goals and priorities for the SJC.  A co-chair led us in an exercise to help identify and clarify the functions of the committee.  Questions arose about priorities among various concerns, whether we should be focused only on issues within the university, how we can best channel voices of students and other members of the community to the central administration, and several other matters.  She then asked us to identify linkages among the individual points we raised.  The main areas seemed to be power, communications, education, and practice.  Work remains to be done to identify actions associated with each area.  In closing, she requested that we review the goals and objectives as previously published on Google Drive, which she will update to reflect today’s discussion.  She asked us to provide suggestions within the next two weeks about how to operationalize the goals and objectives.

Working Groups Structure:  Co-chairs presented a poster that identified the current and proposed working groups.   SJC members should  consider how and where they might best participate.  We will revisit this structure later.

Wrap up:  Co-facilitator for November is Onno, and for December is Randy.  Note taker for November is Nick, and for December is George.  We ended with various announcements.  Meeting adjourned at 5:00pm.

Recorded by George Fisher