The End of an Era: The Social Justice Leader Program Will be Ending

Who are going to be the ones that spread passion for justice to all?

by Thomas Pell
Staff Social Justice Lover

One of the cornerstones of Fordham’s mission is “men and women for and with others.” This mouthful of words is the root of several offices on campus: GO!, Campus Ministry, and the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice. Hundreds–probably thousands–of students have passed through the doors of each of these offices since their establishment. Service, reflection and community are important components to what I’ll call the “Big Service Three.” Involved students have gone on to set the world on fire after learning to embody the Jesuit values truly.

What if I were to tell you one of these offices were cutting off students from spreading Jesuit values to other students who may not even know where the service-based groups are located? The Dorothy Day Center is ending its Social Justice Leaders program, and changing the face ofifice. I think more students should be alarmed by this sudden turn in direction.
As a student who participated in Urban Plunge, a program created and facilitated by these SJLs, I am incredibly upset. My group leaders were fearless, outspoken, and incredibly thoughtful people. They opened my eyes to the Bronx community and allowed me to see the beauty in justice. Urban Plunge taught me that there is so much more to service than just acting for others. They each fired me up to learn more about myself and to build relationships with people in my new home. At the end of Plunge, my fellow plungers and I were so excited to hear that our leaders did not leave their fervor for social justice in August when classes started. They told us that they would be hosting programs throughout the school year that were dedicated to fostering justice not only in the Bronx, but also the international community.

I have attended a lot of SJL programs in my time at Fordham. There have been so many thought-provoking movie showings, talks with community members, panels with professors, and service events that have opened my eyes and those of my peers around me to social justice problems all over the globe. I always have considered Social Justice Leaders heroes in some sense. They really motivated me to continue volunteering and to educate myself on issues that many do not care about.

I really attribute the SJLs to getting students involved on campus as well. They are the ones that motivate so many of their Plungers to continue volunteering throughout their times at Fordham. These students are the life and blood of the office, and on top of that, the program seemed to be extraordinarily successful. So many of my friends who did not particpate in Plunge began asking SJLs at these programs for recomendations on how they can involve themselves more in change. These stuends have caused so many students to involve themselves in service when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

I know some consider the SJL community to be cliquey or too sensitive, but I know of very few people who have ever experienced anything negative from the community. The students are inclusive, loving and passionate. They care for each other and the community we all live in. It breaks my heart to see the SJL program fall apart—I really do consider this to be a huge mistake. Other schools do not have an integrative program like this.
I look up to SJLs and their presence on campus will most definitely leave a huge void on campus. I hope the program is miraculously saved because these students truly allow for their peers to be better men and women for and with others.

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