Student & Social Justice Week Founder Shelby Wade: “As a transfer student I expected SSU to be full of passion and activism like my previous campus, Sierra College, had been. At Sierra College I was involved in a tradition of activism that included a social justice week each year. However, this was not what I found at Sonoma State. So, I created it. My goal was to stimulate information and social action at a school that had lost its 60’s era activism of people like Rueben Salazar and Mario Savio. Beginning in 2015, Social Justice Week at Sonoma State started a conversation and ignited the campus and community in a week of engagement that hasn’t stopped since. I am so proud of what this event has become and cannot wait to see it continue to increase community awareness and create students who are socially engaged in justice work.”
Sonoma State’s Social Justice week began March 23, 2015, the support and leadership of faculty, including Dr. Peter Phillips and Dr. Diana Grant. The goal of Social Justice Week is to provide a space for not only the Sonoma State student body, but the community as well, to contribute ideas, gain perspective, and get an understanding of current social issues. It is comprised of between 30-60 hours of lecture, discussions, films, presentations, panels and activities from guest speakers, students, and faculty. This is a yearly event that covers a range of topics from Dr. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz “Torture War Crimes, and the Indigenous Peoples’ Perspective on US History.” (2015), to “Censorship and Fake News,” Mickey Huff, Project Censored (2017).
A student in the Social Justice Course states “Social Justice Week allows members of the SSU community to gain knowledge about social issues faced both in our community and in communities all around us. It provides an in depth look at societal issues as it gives students the chance to listen to passionate, intuitive and well educated guests that promote justice in a limitless world. Social Justice Week aims to bring awareness to issues that guest speakers and the community deem necessary and inspire advocates for change.”
Social Justice Week
1. Connects students with advocates who help students develop theoretical understanding of whose land SSU sits upon and the power of grassroots activism for human betterment and social change, while raising student and community awareness of and engagement with issues embedded in societal social structures of inequality, colonialism, imperialism, classism, ableism, sexism, patriarchy, heterosexism, queerphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and religious and other discrimination.
2. Involves students in social justice issues and organizations which produces socially responsible students (educated to be effective personal and social change agents in the pursuit of justice); community engagement (collaborative partnerships that strengthen communities, provides services, and prepares students); and contributes to equitable distribution of economic, political, civil, cultural, social, and other resources and opportunities in society in order to promote personal, campus, and community development.
A student in the Social Justice Course states “Social Justice Week will promote awareness and solutions to societal issues regarding disparities among the community by seeking to invite all Sonoma State students, staff, and activists to each meeting.”
Social Justice Week will build student and community interactions that increase 1. Diversity and social justice; 2. Sustainability and environmental inquiry; 3. Connectivity and community engagement; 4. Adaptability and responsiveness. Social Justice Week will distinguish itself as a diverse, socially responsible learning community draws from the cultural, intellectual, and economic resources of its location to enrich and strengthen its educational programs and community connections that result in more equity on campus and in the region.