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Friday, June 14
The Indiana Daily Student

IU hosts third annual Social Justice Conference


The annual Social Justice Conference, hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, or OVPDEMA, will be on Jan. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

The in-person events will take place in Alumni Hall located in the Indiana Memorial Union or through a virtual viewing option.  

This year’s conference theme is “The Audacity to Believe in Dignity, Equity, and Freedom,” inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. 

“Social justice is important because we are the world’s leaders of tomorrow,” IU sophomore and CommUNITY Educator Reid Syverson said. “The goal of these events today is to inform students on the injustices we face and hope to insight the will to change that.” 

“[The] Social Justice Conference is important because we are the world's leaders of tomorrow,” IU sophomore and CommUNITY Educator Reid Syverson said. “The goal of these events today is to inform students on the injustices we face and hope insight the will to change that.” 

The conference will include breakfast, a soup and salad bar for lunch and a vocal performance from Jacobs School of Music doctoral students Benjamin Gittens and Shenika John Jordan. There will also be keynote speakers, a book signing and two concurrent sessions that aim to make the campus and community more inclusive and collaborative. 

The first session is from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. and will have panelists from IU Kokomo who have been reading “Do the Work: An Anti-Racist Activity Book” share their experiences. The second session is from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. will be a panel discussion about the partnership between IU and Monroe County on the use of prosecutorial discretion at charging, bail, diversion, plea agreement, and sentencing for traffic and misdemeanor cases.   

Charles Skyes, executive director of the African American Arts Institute, worked with OVPDEMA and arranged Gittens and Jordan to perform Negro spirituals, a form of music that provided comfort and inspiration for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. 

“The messages of these songs will remind (others) to stay strong in the midst of injustice.” 

Additionally, the CommUNITY Education Programs will host the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Immersion Series. The theme is “The Promise(d) Land: Creating a more just, fairer, and equitable community” in hopes students will push to make campus and Bloomington a better community.  

 “These events are beneficial because they help students to feel like they belong, understand the roles and responsibilities they have in making the world a better place and because they help them thrive and become better civic stewards,” Syverson said. 

The first event of the series, “A Public Reimagining”, will be hosted on Jan. 16 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. outside of Wright, Forest and McNutt. CommUNITY Educators will be stationed with white boards for students to write down what they envision in a fair and equitable community.  

“I hope that with this event, students are able to not only see the kind of world that they personally want to live in, but also see how the hopes and dreams of their peers can be both similar and different than their own,” IU sophomore CUE Anna Filoso said. “We all want a better world and I think that this event will not only help students recognize their desires but connect and understand others on a deeper level.” 

Other events in the series include an MLK Celebration Dinner on Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. in Willkie Auditorium and the annual Civil Rights Immersion Trip from Mar. 12 to 16 in Memphis, Tennessee. The final event will be on Mar. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Teter NST where peers and leaders will reflect on their work. 

“We hope that students will be able to learn more about the vision Dr. King and other civil rights leaders have for the country, reflect on what the promised land is and their role in bringing about the collective vision and understand key terms such as justice, inclusion and equity,” IU junior and planning committee member Courteney Biggs said. 


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