Opinion: Proposed social justice center needs a grassroots focus

Austin Mann

Kevin Griffin

Austin MannI have had the good fortune to be a part of Social Justice Week.

Many organizations on campus have united to build this week and to support the proposed Center for Social Justice and Human Rights.

However, I am somewhat worried about some issues with the week.

The week’s purpose is to raise awareness about social justice so that campus organizations can get people involved to solve problems. There is nothing wrong with this, but I am concerned about the ability of our campus allies to provide meaningful change.

I saw the center as a proactive force that mobilized students for direct action.

Amanda Moore, a senior global studies major, said the center is supposed to support campus groups to collaborate and share information. It will provide internships, contacts and opportunities for protests or demonstrations.

Moore described the center as a way to create a generation with the leadership skills to become the next generation of world changers.
However, many of the groups involved are non-governmental organizations.

Potential societal change is diminished as grassroots efforts lose manpower and NGOs push a trendy view of activism. Efforts to change society and fix problems are de-radicalized and co-opted by NGOs. NGOs that fail to fight the society that causes injustice are incapable of bringing social justice.

Organizations on campus need a place and the center must take an active role in grassroots activism.

However, I am still optimistic about the center. The people building it are competent and the center’s positives will make up for possible drawbacks.  

Mann, a freshman computer science major from Raleigh, is an opinion writer.