Free trade coffee. Worker’s rights. Sweatshops. National protests. Fairfield University’s newest student club is not just about free pizza and socializing. Students for Social Justice, founded by a group of three seniors, has emerged as a proactive club with quite the agenda. “We hope the group is able to take an active role in changing some of the social injustices that we see around us,” said Mary Parr ’04, one of the group’s founding leaders. “We also hope to increase the understanding of the interconnectedness of world issues campus-wide.” Parr and fellow students Katie Leo ’04 and Kris Walentik ’04 were inspired to establish the group after taking part in the School of Americas protest in Georgia this past November. “Our inspiration for this group came from a trip we took together with three other Fairfield students,” said Parr. “We attended a Jesuit university teach-in, and we noticed that our group was surrounded by other Jesuit schools with groups compromised of 100 students or more. Our group of six realized that students at Fairfield did not really have an outlet to discuss issues of social justice, so we decided to create one.” Although the club intends to be active on campus, it also focuses on the educational component of social issues. “We created this group with the idea that Fairfield students can educate each other about issues that they are passionate about,” said Parr. Focusing on issues both globally and locally, Students for Social Justice hopes to tackle issues especially relevant to Fairfield to keep students aware of injustice on global and also community levels. “One of the major goals of the group is to increase awareness of issues both on campus and globally as we learn about them,” said Parr. According to Parr, the Fairfield faculty has been ecstatic about the group’s prospective role on campus. Professors from across all departments have expressed their support and willingness to assist students in both the education and action components of various issues, she said. Likewise, student turnout has also been promising. So far, the club has held three meetings, and new faces continue to be seen with each meeting. Nevertheless, the representation from the student community has not been quite as substantial as Parr had hoped. “We were extremely pleased to have 35 students attend our first meeting, but that is still only 1 percent of the Fairfield community,” she said. “However, the turnout was wonderful.” Generally, students are just as excited and energized by the group’s intentions as the faculty. “I did Amnesty International through high school. I’ve always been interested in human rights, and it seemed this was the closest thing to it here at Fairfield University,” said club member Jessica Bannon ’06. “It’s pathetic we don’t have a chapter really. It’s such a huge organization, but I figured Students for Social Justice had the potential to be an even more general Amnesty International, covering a lot of different issues.” Although created for the good of the entire university community, the founders of Students for Social Justice have their own personal motives that aided in their decision to start the club. “On a personal level, we as seniors just wanted to leave campus with a forum where students can go to both teach and learn,” said Parr. “We want to heighten our own understanding of issues and figure out how we can work together to take an active role in impacting our campus.”

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