As we enter a new year, your student body leaders examine what social justice means to them

Posted on: August 20th, 2014


We are young. We are growing and developing. Our minds are not yet fully formed. We are students. And lastly, we are not experts.   Yet, we recognize people face many difficulties – not only on the local level, but also on the global level. Nationwide, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt and sexual assaults now plague campuses across the United States. Specifically at Loyola, our student body and University face concerns about safety, our University expansion’s long-term impact on the community, student apathy, and student awareness on occurrences at the University. Solving these concerns might seem easy at times. For example, high costs: cut back on the unnecessary ones. This could mean working on initiatives to lower the cost of the textbooks our professors require. However, we realize that fix is not a sustainable solution for increasing access to our institution or others. The more difficult question remains unanswered: How does one decrease costs, while maintaining value or increasing it? Across the board, there are short-term fixes, many of which we hope to capitalize upon. Yet, there are many long-term solutions to be discovered and many proposed solutions where the impact is yet to be known. I once had a friend ask me, “What does that look like, though? Aren’t you constantly frustrated?” Initially, you can be. It is tough not knowing what to do sometimes and difficult to determine what solution is going to be most beneficial – especially, when you sign up for a position where everyone is expecting you to produce results. To us, that is a component of social justice, though. It is not knowing, but still continuing to ask those tough questions. It is questioning the impact of what may seem simple. In a recent interview with New York Times’ columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, President Obama communicated that over the years he has learned that though a plan of action may seem flawless, its impact is something that should always be questioned. Through our progression, I think this is one very valuable sentiment we have learned, that to us social justice is not and should not always be about results. In our minds, we emphasize that social justice is more about a way of thinking, than a way of doing. It ties back to what is promoted in Jesuit education, being men and women for and with others. The “with” is so important because before being “for” someone, one must first truly understand the issue at hand. This is the exact reason why we love this year’s first-year text so much. In his text, Tattoos on the Heart, Father Gregory Boyle, S.J, writes, “Jesus was not a man for others; he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.” This value of kinship is something that we place so much importance on, that we often times use former University of California, Berkeley Dean of Students, Jonathan Poullard’s characterization to describe our own thoughts on social justice. As former Dean, he explained that a component of social justice specific to higher education is “striving to create an environment where all students are able to feel physically and psychologically safe.” Again, it is the thinking that precedes the action. First, one must critically analyze what it means to attain physical and psychological safety in order to advocate for it. This careful thought is what Flavio and I strive to apply to complex issues, such as how our university can further support undocumented students. How do we create an accessible atmosphere that promotes safety for undocumented scholars? Again, a question of great difficulty, Yet, it is in this hardship, the fact that we are young, and the reality that we are students, all within the framework of a Jesuit education, that we find ourselves in right relation with Pedro Arrupe, S.J.’s dream of creating a socially just-focused society. Michael Fasullo, Student Body Vice President Flavio Bravo, Student Body President  

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