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Saint Mary’s closes 2014-15 Justice Friday series

| Monday, April 27, 2015

Senior Meredith Mersits and director of the Justice Education Program Adrienne Lyles-Chockley presented the final Justice Friday installment and reflected on the series as a whole.Caitlyn Jordan

Senior Meredith Mersits and director of the Justice Education Program Adrienne Lyles-Chockley presented the final Justice Friday installment and reflected on the series as a whole.

The Saint Mary’s Justice Education Program closed this year’s Justice Friday Series by reflecting and assessing progress made this year and the challenges ahead.

Professor of philosophy and director of the justice education program Adrienne Lyles-Chockley led the open discussion with the help of her student assistant, Saint Mary’s senior Meredith Mersits.

Lyles-Chockley and Mersits tried to focus on letting the audience carry the discussion because part of the purpose of the discussion was to gain feedback from students on how Justice Friday presentations have been and how they can be improved in the fall

“I aim for the program to be student centered and focused,” Lyles-Chockley said.

The overall goal of the discussion was to reflect on how progress has been made on the Saint Mary’s campus to bring awareness and advocate for different social issues. The discussion also focused on prospective ideas on social justice issues to be discussed in next year’s series of Justice Fridays.

One of the initial points brought up by an audience member was that one of the major improvements that should be made overall is the presence of Justice Fridays on campus.

The Justice Friday series is meant to be an opportunity for students to talk with other students and faculty about justice issues that are commonly faced in the Holy Cross community. It is an opportunity for students to voice their opinions, solve problems and initiate changes necessary to bring justice to the community, Lyles-Chockley said.

However, some students suggested a greater awareness of Justice Fridays is necessary throughout the campus.

Mersits said her experience with the Justice Friday series had broadened her horizons.

“It’s been great to hear about issues that I didn’t even know about,” Mersits said. “It’s helped to grow my scope of the Saint Mary’s community and the world.”

Many suggestions for expanding the presence on campus were mentioned such as possibly creating a forum for students, a Justice Friday series Twitter page or possibly videotaping each section of the series so that those who are not able to make the meeting can be a part of the discussion and remain up-to-date on the issues.

Lyles-Chockley pointed out that the more people experience Justice Fridays, they will see the value in them, and the presence will grow.

“If people see the value of Justice Fridays, it will continue to grow,” Lyles-Chockley said. “It’s a snowball effect.”

Many justice issues were suggested and taken into consideration for next year as well.

Students said they wanted to focus on the more controversial issues on campus that generally are ignored or bypassed by the College.

Lyles-Chockley said she agreed and added the more students are willing to participate and share their view on such controversial issues in the community, the more they will be able to confront such issues themselves and as a community.

“There’s a lot of value in discomfort during discussions,” Lyles-Chockley said.

Lyles-Chockley said that this is why she wants to keep Justice Fridays student centered. She said students need an opportunity to come together and have discomforting discussions about social issues because it brings awareness. Once there is awareness, students are prepared and able to be advocates of justice in the community, she said.

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