Social Justice Week recap: what you missed

From left to right: John Harris Jr., DeMaria Walters, John Harris Sr. – Speaker, Founder and President of Encouragement Unlimited, Tyler Shephard, Mario Diaz, Daishon Johnson, members of the Black Student Union, stand with Harris, Sr. (third from left) after giving his presentation titled "When the Struggle Intersects Your Life!" The event was hosted by the Black Student Union on Feb. 17 as part of Benedictine College's Social Justice Week. Photo provided by Joe Wurtz.

By Nick Servi, The Circuit.

Benedictine College just ended its 31st Social Justice Week program, which ran Feb. 12-17. Each day featured events that encouraged social justice for all people.

Social Justice Week kicked off with morning Mass at the Abbey Church and two showings of “Outcasts,” a documentary film from Grassroots Films about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

The film discussed the Franciscans work of spreading the faith to the most impoverished of the world’s society and those stuck in addictions. It focused on their work in New York, Ireland and Honduras.

Question and answer sessions with Producer Joseph Campo, who is also a co-founder of Grassroots Films, and two of the Franciscan friars, followed each screening.

Marie Putbrese, senior, liked the film because Campo also directed “The Human Experience,” one of her favorite films.

“I really like ‘Outcasts’ because the filmmakers did a really good job of showing the humanity, rather than the sin, of the people they interview,” Putbrese said. “They were trying to convey that even people who are looked over by society are still human and have worth—that it’s necessary to uphold their dignity.”

Putbrese believes BC should put on more films like “Outcasts” because of its focus on the humanity of the individuals involved.

“I think it’s great for the college to bring in movies like ‘Outcasts’ because a lot of movies have bad values,” she said. “This movie had good values.

Other events sponsored by BC during Social Justice Week included the art exhibition “Social Justice: Seeking Humanity” hosted by the Art Department from Feb. 13-17, and “The Local Reality of Food Insecurity” panel discussion by the Hunger Coalition on Feb. 13.

Student volunteers also set up a “refugee tent” outside the John Paul II Student Center in order to bring awareness to the cause of Middle Eastern refugees on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The Black Student Union gave a presentation about the present-day racial climate in America on Feb. 17. The guest speaker was John Leonard Harris, president and founder of Encouragement Unlimited, Inc., an organization that provides motivational, educational and community-based services for individuals from all walks of life.

The Sociology Club also hosted an event on Feb. 15 where they had attendees eat a “refugee meal” and hear the experiences of three people who worked with refugees.

Dr. Karen Wood, Sociology Department, who is the advisor for the Sociology Club, discusses the club’s active role in Social Justice Week over the past several years.

“One of our club’s founding principles has been social justice and service to the community,” Wood said. “We have worked to have a seat at the planning table of Social Justice Week. It is one of our main events of the year.”

Wood believes Social Justice Week is an opportunity for service clubs on campus to host speakers and events that are important to them.

“Social Justice Week is designed to give the BC community an opportunity to explore issues of social justice from a number of different angles,” Wood said. “It’s also an opportunity for us as a college community to create awareness, contemplate, pray and, for some, begin to act for social justice. The week is a nice blend of club partnerships, academic perspectives and ministry.”