Variety of events raise awareness during Social Justice Week

shoe drive, movie screening and open group discussion were all held at UM this past week to raise awareness of social injustice issues. The events were part of Social Justice Week, which began on Monday, Jan. 25.

The co-chairs of Social Justice Week, juniors Mikayla Farr and Ja’Shondra Pouncy, have been working with the Butler Center since their freshman year. Farr explained how Tunnel of Oppression, an annual exhibit that displays injustices happening around the world, led her to work on Social Justice Week.

“Working with Tunnel of Oppression freshman year kind of just catapulted me into Social Justice Week,” Farr said. “It really sheds light on issues that are in your backyard, but that you might not notice.”

There was a shoe drive for impoverished communities in Guatemala on Monday, a screening of the sexual assault documentary “It Happened Here” on Tuesday, and a Snack-N-Chat session on Wednesday, Jan. 27, where students discussed ways to get involved.

“I feel we need more bridging between organizations to produce higher outcomes,” Pouncy said.

Pouncy said that a key value of the week is how it highlights different social justice issues, which she said are all related.

“I was really drawn by the interconnectedness of social justice issues,” Pouncy said.

The co-chairs began planning for Social Justice Week in September of 2015. Farr said that teamwork is crucial when orchestrating the different events.

“I handle the logistical aspects and Mikayla is more the people person,” Pouncy said.

They start by contacting other organizations on campus to gauge their interest in co-sponsoring events. This year, the Butler Center worked with the service organization and student-run social change group Canes Catalyst, Counseling Outreach Peer Education and various community partners.

President Nathaniel Imane explained that the shoe drive was a joint effort with a local middle schooler who contacted him about sending the shoes to Guatemala.

“I am always looking for creative and innovative ways to promote change,” Imane said. “I just want to collect as many as humanly possible.”

On Jan. 27, the Snack-N-Chat took place on the Moss Terrace of the Shalala Student Center. According to Farr, the purpose of the event was to connect students looking for long-term volunteer opportunities with local non-profit agencies.

“We want people to be involved in service because they are passionate, not to collect a few [community service] hours,” Farr said.

“I feel we need more bridging between organizations to produce higher outcomes,” Pouncy said.