Northwestern’s first Social Justice Week to debut Monday

Gideon Resnick, Reporter

Northwestern’s inaugural Social Justice Week kicks off Monday, bringing together 11 student groups for discussions on issues such as sexual assault in the military and public housing in Chicago.

“There are a lot of student movements being organized on campus and the unifying process created by organizing and executing this week will provide greater education about, involvement in and support for each group involved,” said Moira Geary, a member of the executive board of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Weinberg sophomore said student organizations ranging from For Members Only to the Peace Project began planning for the week at the beginning of this quarter.

Greary said she does not know what to expect for the week’s first run. She said she anticipates putting each group’s events in consecutive order will result in greater attendance than having them separately.

“We have more than 200 people confirmed on Facebook and have been advertising heavily across campus and among activist groups in Chicago,” Geary said.

Geary said she hopes the week itself will have larger ramifications on campus, creating more dialogue about social justice and issues that affect the NU community.

Before Weinberg senior Taylor Layton graduates, he said he also wants to see a difference in community engagement.

“I think Northwestern needs this because we suffer from being too individualized,” said Layton, who has been promoting the week as a member of its planning committee. “This week is meant to not only raise awareness of different social issues, but also provide reminders that there are communal outlets for our discontent.”

The week begins with a discussion of public housing in Chicago led by Mary Pattillo, a sociology and African-American studies professor. She will discuss her research, which focuses on history, community activism and modern case studies in public housing.

The last day of Social Justice Week is Saturday, when student groups will host discussions on both mental health and strategies for using the Internet for activism.

There will be a post-week gathering Tuesday to allow students to celebrate, express grievances and encourage productive use of public space on campus, Geary said.

Layton hopes the conversation continues long after Social Justice Week ends.

“I have done a lot for myself at Northwestern,” Layton said. “Now it’s time to take the opportunities I have earned for myself into the world to actually help people. Start here and don’t stop.”