Southern is not a true social justice university

Essence BoydNews Editor

For as long as I can remember, Southern has displayed a vision of being a social justice driven university without providing proof.

According to the university website, Southern “strives to ensure that all members of the community are treated with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion and civility.”

However, besides there being one month out of the year dedicated to making “everyone” – and I use this term very loosely, feel celebrated and included, the university does not correctly utilize being a social justice focused.

As students have been told, another part of being a “social justice” campus means giving everyone a platform to speak their mind, regardless of how others may portray their message to be.

Due to this, the university has numerous political organizations and minority clubs.

However, is this just another way to keep every group on campus squared away and happy? If I am being completely honest, upon coming to Southern and first being told of what social justice was, the whole concept seemed – and still does – to only be about race.

If you were to visit Southern’s social justice website, the first thing that is jumps out at you is, “The resources provided here are intended for faculty and staff to explore in an effort to strengthen their understandings of how systemic racism operates in our lives, communities and classrooms.”

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The only time this label has been used to its fullest was during incidents that challenged the day-to-day operation. such as when a racial slur is used in a classroom.

On a different note, despite being told what social justice is, does anyone actually know what it means?

If you were to go up to any students and ask them what the term meant and how Southern fits into this category, they would stumble, have no idea, or all have completely different answers.

Having been a peer mentor and a current resident adviser, you would think I would have a better understanding of what it means after the constant and endless training I have received to fill these positions, but I can assure you, I have no idea.

Now, this is concerning, someone who spends the most time with first year students has no clue how to educate about a message they are supposedly going to be emerged in for the next four years.

The label is almost the same as the giant “Vape and Smoking free campus” sign that used to be plastered across the pedestrian bridge. It was a literal label spread across the bridge to make the university seem better and ahead of the curve to parents, but it was never intended for students.

Because, if it was, students would not be able to walk pass it puffing smoke out of their Juuls. If being a social justice university means giving everyone a platform to speak their mind and be all inclusive, how can you expect students who pay just as much money as everyone else to leave campus in order to smoke?

Smoking aside, this raises another question – how is Southern going to offer social justice as a possible minor in the future, if the general public does not have a basic understanding of what it means?

As a journalist on this campus, professors, students and staff have made it impossible for me to do my job even though we all seem to have the same goal of educating students, if we are an open and inclusive school, why turn away people simply doing their jobs?

However, for Southern, being labeled as something and actually following through on being that thing are two completely different issues, and no one is fooled.

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