Social Justice: Struggle, Responsibility, and Care

Posted on: September 19th, 2014

Sadika Sulaiman Hara, Director of the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, offers her insight on the issues of social justice and care at Loyola University Chicago.

When identifying where the best fit would be for me to continue my learning and leadership, it was critical that the values of the University aligned closely to those that I work very hard to live out each day in my personal and professional life. The Jesuit principles of cura personalis – care for the whole person and homonis pro aliis—people caring for others first drew me to Loyola University Chicago. As a person who is committed to issues of access and success of historically underrepresented students, a place that is committed to the care of the multiple identities is essential to how I am able to create and develop equitable services and programs that meet the needs of students from various populations.

Through the Department of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, students, staff, and faculty engage in the exploration of self and community to better understand one’s own lived experiences, as well as, those that may be different and often unfamiliar. This is by no means easy and the discomfort that can come with this reflection can be difficult. This is where I often say, “Lean into the discomfort for the learning to happen.” As I encourage students, staff, and faculty to do this in our programs and trainings, I too live by this phrase for my own growth and in pursuit of social justice. To do the work that I do, I have been challenged, often times by students, to reflect on my power and privilege to identify how I perpetuate the cycle of oppression – the very cycle that impedes our community and society from reaching equity and social justice for all its members. Understanding my responsibilities as a heterosexual, college educated, U.S. citizen, and professional – my privileged identities – has been integral in how I lead. Engaging with others, asking questions, researching the gaps in my learning allow me to show up with marginalized populations, and take part in the difficult dialogues that can arise when discussing structural and individual oppression within circles of folks who hold privilege. This notion of showing up, whether that is physically, through voice, or written request is how I see movement towards social justice. It has taken me some time to fully unpack and embrace my areas of discomfort associated with showing up; however, I know each day that this is what I am called to do and where I want to be. The struggle is part of the path to social justice and to find clarity through it all, time and time again, has allowed me to stand firm in my service and care for historically marginalized communities with an unwavering sense of certainty.

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