Question of the Week: Social Justice in Education

In light of our recent College Issues Day:

Imagine a future where Bellevue College fully embraces social justice as a central core value.  What are some of the specific ways social justice would be a part of our daily and ongoing activities at the college? [Use the speech bubble to the right or the reply link below to respond]

Please feel free to think of this question in terms of the college as a whole, as well as in relationship to your own discipline, expertise, or experience.

12 thoughts on “Question of the Week: Social Justice in Education

  1. Eating together is one of the most social things we do as a human community, and the food we serve should–I believe–illustrate our commitment to social justice. I urge BC to seriously consider requesting that the food offered at the BC Cafeteria move in a more Earth-, animal-, and human-friendly direction. I urge specifically healthy, vegetable-focused dishes that are actually prepared by cooks, and not purchased frozen from Sysco and merely wrapped in plastic or heated up. As it stands now, the vegetarian selections are minimal and often of low quality; this need not be. I also suggest that we follow the fabulous path I witnessed at a university in China a few summers ago. At the school’s cafeteria, bowls of healthy soup were avaialbble for free to anyone who asked for one (in addition to numerous other offerings for sale). No student or faculty member at this Chinese campus needed to go hungry that day. I further suggest that BC facultly subsidize this expense with personal, voluntary donations. The school SHOULD pay for it, but it would be good for faculty to have this important involvement. All of this needs far more defense than I can present here, of course. I’m open to discussing this with anyone.

  2. I believe that issues like violence prevention and awareness should be brought to the campus. Particularly Domestic Violence Awareness, Dating Violence Awareness, and Sexual Violence Awareness. To this date I have been looking for such topics on campus and have come across none whatsoever (except within some classes – but not outside of those classes). These issues affect almost every single person and should not be dismissed or taken lightly. Our college community is hindering themselves simply by not engaging in the raising of this awareness and this in some form is a dismissal of these vital issues. How are we to promote social justice through equality if we do not bring light to these difficult and harmful issues??? If these issues can be brought to be one of the forefront issues alongside LGBTQ equality, racial equality, and disability equality, then our college would be doing a service to society. I feel that violence awareness and prevention is encompassed within the above mentioned issues that are already being spoken about on campus, and must be spoken about as it’s own issue as well. In fact it appalls me that during the month of October there was not one mention of Domestic Violence Awareness Month at all on this campus!! If Bellevue College claims to celebrate inclusion and diversity, then leaving these important issues out shows a blatant disregard for equality, not only across race, but across gender and class! Bellevue College cannot uphold the status of inlusion unless it encompasses ALL aspects of inclusion. I would like to suggest that the college creat and open a Department or Section of the college devoted to this where men and women alike can come to seek refuge and safety. The counseling center and women center (which would be of great service to those affected by violence) are not only not given much mention on your webpage, they are integrated within the advising and career center as if to say these things are not “important enough” to have their own department/section! How can students feel safe to voice their hurts and issues if these topics are kept quiet and secret??? They CAN’T and that’s a FACT. I am all for starting this campaign, who’s with me????

  3. Social justice for adjunct faculty is a problem that probably will never be addressed until it is broken up into its parts and addressed in local, grassroots ways. How can we have a civil conversation and responsive actions to the needs of the majority of the teaching faculty at BC?

    1. Survey part-time faculty to find needs that can be addressed from within our community.
    2. Encourage creative thinking departmentally and institutionally on how to address these needs.
    3. Develop a feasible set of goals and activities each year to bring small, measurable changes to campus practices and culture.
    4. Act, reflect, and respond = hold administration (from department chairs up to the president) and the BCAHE leadership accountable for visible change in working conditions and public discourses around adjunct status.
    5. Don’t accept it when people say adjunct working conditions present an insuperable problem and/or we are powerless to change these conditions.

    We have task forces and committees on many important problems? Where is this one?

  4. I would like to propose developing an English class (or two) that coordinates with the DRC, rather like the one that is currently being piloted to combine English 101 with 092/093. In this class, students with apparent or non-apparent disabilities would be given English 101 or 201 credit for reading, writing, and researching about their specific conditions. The class could have a lab that provides additional support for the students — rather like a directed readings situation — or maybe an additional space of time (1/2 hour) over and above the usual 5 hours per week that 101 and 201 take. The purpose of this combined class would be to both provide commonly required English credits and use the reading, writing, and researching skills learned for personal benefit.

    Why do I think such a class addresses social justice? Because such a class, if successful, could help “close the gap” in learning and success for certain students. The class would not just teach writing, thinking, reading, and researching in the abstract — it would teach these skills in a manner that is directly and profoundly relevant to the individual who may be in need of some additional insight into a disabling condition.

  5. For faculty, we’d examine our grade distributions (at the instructor-by-instructor level) to see how well various populations of students are doing in our classes. We’d access the infamous “pivot tables” to see how well our students are actually DOING in our classes. (Our impressions frequently differ from the facts.) We’d compare the ‘success rates’ of males and females, whites and students of color, DRC-registered students and non-DRC-registered students, LGBTQ students and het students, students receiving financial aid and students not receiving aid, etc. If we discover gaps (which will likely be the case), then we’d engage in deep, meaningful conversation about what we can do to narrow the gaps. Then we’d try to DO IT. (Action is key.) But we need to start with the ‘facts’ (the grade data), and we need to take responsibility for them (rather than blame students). We’d need to run this grade data at the instructor-, Program-, Division-, and College-wide levels. We’d need to see each other’s grade data (which we can access anyways, in the Pivot Tables) so we can talk to one another about what seems to be working well, and what isn’t. Administration would make this a priority, and discussion about it would be embedded into our meetings, CIDs, etc. Although it is no doubt true that many of our students face significant societal obstacles that impede their chances for success, we have to stop blaming them and look at ourselves in the mirror. Each of us, individually. We have to look at the facts in *our* classes, and we each have to want to change in order to better serve our students. So frequently on this campus, I’ve found, our conversations about equity seem to be focus on inequity that is ‘out there’ somewhere. By looking at our own data, we bring the analysis down-to-earth.

    • I agree that analyzing these data will allow us to focus on real areas of need in our classes and at the college. The data we can access now only focus on racial, sex and age data, but my impression is that we now collect more identity data from students so that we can begin to see how well we are serving LGBTQ and DRC students. The n-values are low for some groups, but this will be a very useful tool for us to begin to find where the ‘gaps’ actually are and act on them.

  6. I would like to see the college consider social justice in respect at all its various scales from the interpersonal to campus to community; state; nation; global. How can both our curriculum and practices promote social justice in all its forms. What role does each discipline and each department play? Perhaps something like a social/envir/economic justice (i.e. sustainability) filter on decision making at various levels and making that transparent.

  7. Employees would be paid a fair salary closer to the market rate so they wouldn’t have to seek a fair salary elsewhere, and the college could better retain staff who are knowledgeable about how to do what need to get done. Also, more permanent and fewer interim staff would be hired.

  8. In a future where Bellevue College fully embraces social justice as a central core value, I see every student in each classroom being recognized and considered as a valuable member of the academic community. I see faculty treating all of their students equitably, taking into consideration student differences based on ethnic minority status, gender, disability, etc, as they implement the curriculum into their courses.

  9. I’d like to see a civics requirement at Bellevue College. According to our core values, “We acknowledge our responsibility to society and embrace the belief that widespread access to excellent postsecondary education is the cornerstone of a democratic society.” We need to be a better job of preparing our students to be informed and active citizens in this–their and our–democracy. In addition to a civics requirement, I’d like to see the college put more resources into service learning and/or community-based education.

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