Organizations Explore Social Justice Issues

March 14, 2004

Jingbuom Bae, <i>Hullabaloo</i> staff writer

Throughout this week, several Tulane student organizations joined forces to raise political awareness by reaching out to the student body through Social Justice Week.

"The idea behind the week is Tulane has numerous organizations that take on issues beyond their own self-interest," University College senior and College Democrat Evan Wolf said. "These groups ' often do not work in concert because they don't see how their causes are intertwined."

The week's events began with an activities expo in front of McAlister Auditorium last Friday. The groups then went to The Howlin' Wolf for a party called "Democracy Rocks," which attracted more than just young people. Louisiana State Representative Arthur Morrell, joined students to celebrate political awareness. A rummage sale of clothes, CDs, books and other used goods took place at McAlister Auditorium Monday.

The proceeds of the sales were divided equally among nine groups that will in turn contribute them to a charity of their choice. The Tulane College Democrats have planned to use their portion to allow their members to attend a pro-choice march that will take place in Washington, D.C., April 25, President of the Tulane College Democrats and Newcomb College sophomore Lauren Starrett said.

"It's great to talk about protecting women's rights, but if you do not act on what you believe in you are not helping anything," Starrett said. "It's important for Tulane students to go so we can make an actual difference, not just talk about what we wish would happen."

The week also featured an array of speakers. Judge Lynda Van Dadis visited campus Monday to speak on racial inequality in the justice system. Director of Public Affairs of Planned Parenthood of Louisiana Christina Kucera spoke on reproductive rights at Richardson Memorial Hall Tuesday. Monique Hardyn, an advocate of human rights, spoke on environmental protection in the Law School building Wednesday.

The Tulane American Civil Liberties Union brought Clyde Stafford Smith, a lawyer who is concerned with the civil rights of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, to speak on civil liberties Thursday.

"Clive Stafford Smith has been an important player in the fight against capital punishment and the current injustices inflicted upon the detainees at Guantanamo Bay," Tulane ACLU President Kim Frusciante said. "Unfortunately, the situation at Guantanamo Bay has received very little attention in comparison to its grave level of social injustice. I hope that our event helped to open dialogue on this important issue and mobilized the Tulane community to fight for social justice everywhere."

Starrett said the goal of Social Justice Week is to "promote civil liberties, environmental awareness and equal rights." The week is also considered by Starrett to be a force that combats the overall political apathy on Tulane's campus. "Tulane students are typically apathetic, so we are trying to raise awareness, and I think it is working," Starrett said. "We've seen a rise in participation, not only in our group, but also in other groups."

The nine groups that participated in the week were the Tulane College Democrats, the Tulane American Civil Liberties Union, Students Organized Against Racism, MOSAIC, Free the Planet, the Tulane Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Stand for Children, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Nu Mu Citywide Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.

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