Tara L Mitchell
Lock Haven University
Social justice is a broad movement and a life philosophy that fights for and lives by the idea that all people have the right to live meaningful, productive lives of their own making. In essence, all people should have the same access to the resources and privileges of society.
Some people use the terms social justice and social equity synonymously. Lock Haven University has a Social Equity Office which promotes and enforces the nondiscrimination statement, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability or age in its programs and activities. I encourage anyone who has experienced discrimination at Lock Haven University for these reasons to contact the Social Equity Office.
Social justice, however, is a broader term (in the way I define it - as social justice is sometimes difficult to define, others may disagree with me). Social equity is a focus on equal treatment of groups within institutions, such as institutional nondiscrimination statements. Social justice focuses on the broader, often global issues, that lead to groups facing injustice and inequity. Although this may include institutional functions, it also includes a focus on poverty, human trafficking, and environmentalism, among other things. For example, within institutions, women are paid, on average, 77 cents to every dollar men are paid for performing the same job. The disparity is even greater for women of color (68% for African Americans and 59% for Latinas). These social inequities lead to greater social injustice, as women are less likely to be able to gain access to all of society's resources. Additionally, one must question why there are social inequities in pay, which leads to a further understanding of social justice (or the lack thereof) in a historical context.
Social justice is a growing movement, taking advantage of the ability of the internet and social media to bring people together for a common cause. Even Pinterest has a section on social justice. Solidarity in efforts is extremely important to social justice. Many communities and universities are developing grassroots social justice centers, as we begin to work together to create better communities and a better world.
A great deal of my research and service focuses on social justice efforts and Lock Haven University has several groups and departments working toward social equity and social justice both on campus and in the community. Below is just a few of these important efforts, listed in alphabetical order.