Rising Seniors Take Part in Virtual Justice Week

This week, Gonzaga's Campus Ministry Office organized a virtual Justice Week for members of the Class of 2021. The four-day program drew 135 rising seniors and 28 faculty members, who came together virtually to learn about and reflect on the four principles of Gonzaga's service programs: spirituality, simplicity, community, and social justice. 
“The plan for June Justice Week came together as Campus Ministry, in conversation with the Religion Department and other faculty and administrators, wondered how to ensure that our rising senior class could build on their commitment to do justice as is typically obliged by the summer senior service graduation requirement,” says Director of Campus Ministry Mr. Stephen Szolosi. “We had lost the immersion trips already, and we were doubtful that we could partner with our traditional local service sites due to COVID 19.” The remainder of the senior class will partake in other virtual service opportunities organized by Gonzaga later this summer.
Each morning, faculty facilitators introduced a different theme for that day's programming. Those themes included urban poverty, immigration, the care of creation, and finally, the immediately urgent assertion that black lives matter. Each day, students had the opportunity to join a solidarity challenge connected to that day's theme; these challenges were intended to deepen students’ empathy and examine the lived experience of people who are marginalized, excluded, or oppressed. For example, on the day they learned about environmental justice, students were encouraged to take part in an overnight electricity fast. 
Throughout the program, students had the opportunity to hear from wonderful speakers from
The Father McKenna Center on Gonzaga's campus, the Hope Community Center in Apopka, Florida, Nazareth Farm in Salem, West Virginia, and oneTILT, a D.C. based organization that helps companies become more inclusive and diverse. After learning about these organizations and the people they serve, students were asked to perform direct advocacy for marginalized groups. For example, on Wednesday, when the group was discussing and reflecting on immigrants, students were given a long list of concrete ways they can advocate on behalf of immigrants, and asked to complete three of them.
Our seniors dug exceptionally deep this past week to give their attention to these issues, consider the substance of the presentations, and share their own perspective, before taking action in response to what they had learned in either a remote service effort or in advocacy,” says Mr. Szolosi. “Faculty were impressed through the week by the intelligence, compassion, and seriousness with which this group engaged the program. We have high hopes for this class and their leadership next year!”
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